Don't call Jed York the owner of the San Francisco 49ers. He's their CEO.
While that isn't uncommon in the NFL, it's a good place to start with the question of whether Silicon Valley buzz has gone to Jed York's head. Two former employees say it has, leveling an age discrimination lawsuit against the team, as the Chron reports.
The suit, filed Friday in federal court, claims that York's intentions leading up to the team's move to Santa Clara stadium were to somehow rebrand the 49ers. York, the suit alleges, fired Keith Yanagi, 59, Anthony Lozano, 56, and “a lot” of older employees in 2011, replacing them with young techies from the Silicon Valley locale. York himself is in his thirties.
According to the suit, when York was asked about his decision to bring in a younger work force, he said that these younger employees with tech backgrounds, “made a lot of money, they did a lot of cool things before they were 40 years old, and they don’t want to go play golf six days a week.”
So, did York's weird tech fixation motivate the Niners to move to a high-tech new stadium in the valley in the first place? Is his obsession with age the reason it's hard to pin down how old York is online (he is probably 34). Was the genius move to fire head coach Jim Harbaugh age-related, as Harbaugh is 51? These are all good questions.
Yanagi has been with the 49ers since 1987 and was director of video operation. Lozano was hired be the team in 1989 as facilities manager. He was told the franchise was “going in a different direction,” with performance issues cited in the case of Yanagi, says SF Weekly.
The suit alleges that the 49ers violated federal regulations that protect employees from age discrimination, and it seeks unspecified damages for wrongful termination, fraud, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.