Thursday, January 27, 2011

Ellen Strickland, 80, Says She Was Fired from Home Depot Because of Her Age by Thomas Zambito - NY Daily News

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Ellen Strickland, 80, was fired after 19-year career at Home Depot for crediting her bank card while making store purchases
An 80-year-old Home Depot checkout lady known as "Mom" to co-workers says she was canned over a 6-cent screw.
But Ellen Strickland says her September firing had more to do with her age than the screw.
She's suing the home-improvement giant for age discrimination in Queens Supreme Court.
Strickland says she was called into her boss' office and told that her habit of ringing up 6-cent screws to get cash back on her debit card and avoid ATM fees was a no-no.
Strickland, who worked as a bookkeeping supervisor for 15 years before she moved to the register, agreed to stop. By then she had done it four times.
"I used to handle millions of dollars for this company and for 24 cents I'm told I'm going to have to leave?" Strickland said. "There was not a penny missing."
A spokeswoman for the South Ozone Park Home Depot could not be reached for comment.
Strickland says the move stunned her since she had recently been honored at an employee luncheon for registering above-average grades for "cashier friendliness" and a stellar "wait to checkout" time.
Her lawyer, Esther Goldbas, says Strickland was fired despite "a flawless record."
Strickland "performed an action that was common practice among store employees....Plaintiff was the only employee terminated for this action, while younger employees were not," the lawsuit claims.
The firing forced Strickland to leave a place that became a second home after the death of her husband five years ago.
"I enjoyed getting out and seeing the kids," Strickland says. "I was enjoying getting up and going to work every day."
Over 19 years she attended weddings, baby showers and other major events in the lives of co-workers who called her Mom. On days off, they would travel to Atlantic City together.
She says she proved a quick study when Home Depot moved her to the cash register in 2008. She didn't mind standing for eight-hour shifts and rarely took breaks except for lunch. "I couldn't be bothered," she said. "I went ahead and worked....I could outwork most of the younger kids."
For now, she's filling the time by swimming at a recreation center near her Jamaica, Queens, home.
"I'm not one of these 80-year-old people who are just going to sit at home," she said.