WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- A 52-year-old woman claims an upstate movie theater fired her so that it could replace her with a "much younger person" -- her own daughter.
A lawsuit filed in White Plains federal court charges Carmel Cinema, of Putnam County, with canning Marcy Starnes for being too "old school" -- and too old.
The suit seeks unspecified damages for violation of state and federal age-discrimination laws.
It also charges theater owner Gary Goldring, a minority investor in the Tampa Bay Rays' baseball team, and operations manager Paul Schuyler with "aiding and abetting" the discrimination.
According to court papers, Starnes began working as a manager at the eight-screen cinema in 2004 and always "performed her job duties and responsibilities competently and satisfactorily."
Her daughter, 25, was the assistant general manager there.
But after Goldring, who also owns the Bank Street Theater in New Milford, bought the Carmel in July 2010, he and Schuyler made "numerous comments about [Starnes'] age and the age of other employees," the court papers said.
Schuyler not only told Starnes that he thought her daughter was in high school, the court papers say, but also asked her daughter "whether she lived with her parents and was still in school, in an effort to determine her age."
Schuyler also allegedly told Starnes that "she was 'old school' " and "implied that she was too old to learn how to use a computer or computer program."
In September 2010, Goldring fired Starnes, allegedly because "she did not mesh with his staff" -- and asked "if her daughter could perform [Starnes'] job."
"Following the termination, Goldring gave the job to [Starnes'] daughter," the court papers said.
Most damning, Starnes says, is that Schuyler, on the day after the firing, "told [her] daughter that Carmel Cinema was seeking to purchase other theaters -- and that only people who are 25 or 26 years of age know Excel, a computer program."
Besides "lost pay and benefits," Starnes says she suffered "mental anguish and emotional and physical distress."
Schuyler declined to comment Friday, but Goldring -- who made a fortune as an executive at a securities firm bought by Goldman Sachs for $6.5 billion in 2000 -- denied Starnes' allegations.
"That employee was terminated from the Carmel Cinema for cause," he said. "The lawsuit is completely frivolous."
He added that Starnes had previously complained to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and that her case there "was closed without further comment."
Starnes, who has since relocated to Michigan, did not return a call for comment.
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