A 73-year-old South Setauket grandmother has filed a discrimination complaint against the mega store Walmart, alleging her supervisors there fired her because of her age.
Anne Squatrito said for the past eight years she was continually pressured to retire from her job at the chain's East Setauket store, and was asked to do heavy manual labor that was not in her job description as a department manager.
She was fired in December, after a supervisor said she extended a 15-minute lunch break to twice that long, Squatrito said. She said the extended break, which she admits to, was just a trumped-up excuse to get rid of her because of her age.
"They were trying to prove to me that I couldn't do the job," she said at a news conference Monday. "They were going to make it more and more impossible until I gave up."
A spokesman for Walmart, Greg Rossiter, said in a statement, "Ms. Squatrito was dismissed for repeatedly failing to observe our time clock policies. We take violations of meal and rest breaks seriously and had addressed this issue with her on various occasions."
He also said that last year, Walmart ranked No. 4 among the "Top 50 Employers" by Careers and the disAbled magazine and employs more than 400,000 people over the age of 50.
Squatrito filed a complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights Monday. According to her lawyer, Lenard Leeds, of Carle Place, that complaint will automatically be cross-filed with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
If investigators find that it has merit, Squatrito can move ahead on either the state or the federal track, Leeds said. She could be granted a public hearing by the state Division of Human Rights, or the EEOC could grant her leave to file a federal lawsuit, Leeds said.
According to the complaint, Squatrito had already been working at Walmart for eight years when she underwent heart surgery in 2003.
Prior to her surgery, she had received numerous accolades and promotions, she said. After the surgery, she said, her supervisors had asked her almost weekly when she was going to retire. Squatrito said she was set up to fail, being asked in December 2011 to move heavy loads of merchandise from inside a stock room onto trucks. She said when she asked a coworker to help her, her coworker was specifically told that if he helped he would be disciplined.