What are the ages of your laid-off co-workers?

Several Gannett Blog readers have commented on whether there’s an age pattern in those employees getting pink-slipped this week. In other words, is the company only kicking out the old geezers?

“Can you give us age guesstimates?” one reader asked moments ago, when another mentioned three layoffs. “There may be an illegal pattern of dumping people 40 and older here. We need data from anyone anywhere who can help. Jim, can you start a separate topic area for this, please?”

Please post your replies in the comments section, below. To e-mail confidentially, write gannettblog[at]gmail[dot-com]; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right.

Earlier: Advice for laid-off workers from colleagues who took buyouts or were laid off in the past year


40 Responses to “What are the ages of your laid-off co-workers?”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    8:30 – where is your site?

  2. Anonymous Says:

    I think this might be a misleading statistic. I think that most people start at the bottom and work their way up, so it is typical for age and salary to increase in conjunction with one another. With that in mind, if we are simply looking at cost cutting, it is likely that a majority of those laid off will be older, as they make more money and it is more profitable to oust them.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    9:00 PM
    Like it or not, workers 40 and older fall into a protected class in the US. Employers aren’t supposed to discriminate against people in protected classes.

    You reason that it’s more profitable to oust employees who fall in a protected class? Interesting concept, but it’s against the law.

    Misleading statistic, you say? Nope. I think this very stat will tell us all if Gannett’s layoff scheme hammers workers for something they can not change—their age.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    When has ignoring US laws been a problem for Gannett?

    They are famous for settling clear violations to avoid their law breaking from becoming public.

    There is a great book outlining their illegal tactics used in Santa Fe, and other markets.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    9:47 PM
    Q.When has ignoring US laws been a problem for Gannett?
    A. Now.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    The Chain Gang- By Richard McCord should be required reading by all current Gannett Employees and potential employees. It is a real eye opener!!

    Here is a link to a brief review:


  7. Anonymous Says:

    Here’s an age stat someone posted elsewhere:

    Des Moines Register – One 50+ quality control analyst.

  8. Anonymous Says:

    My experience with layoffs in Gannett is that the HR departments are extremely cognizent of the protected classes of employees and go out of their way to do things by seniority within departments. Whenever we had these things at my papers it was always the youngest, least senior that were targeted. Thats not what you would expect but the way it worked. The reason of course is that HR wanted to avoid EEOC litigation so we couldn’t keep the younger, technologically astute with years of upside but had to keep a lot of dinosaurs who really didn’t want to do much. As a dinosaur myself I wasn’t biased towards any age or protected class, I just wanted quality people who worked hard. I always saw FTE reductions as an opportunity to get rid of problem and lazy employees. HR’s goal was only to do layoffs in such a way as to avoid litigation and a lot of younger, less experienced bit the dust because of it.

    On of the key things that came into play when not doing it by reverse seniority was the employees performance based upon annual reviews. If an older employee had performance issues documented it became easier to include them on the list.

    When offering vouluntary buyouts or early retirement age is not the issue as anyone taking a buyout is assumed to have wanted it. In layoffs age is one of the first categories EEOC would review, followed by race, gender and whatever other category they can conjure up. Also laying off older workers by itself is not a violation if it can be shown that the %’age is representative of their number in the impacted group. For example if 47% of the employee population is over 45 with 30% over 55. Then having 50% of layoffs impacting 45+ would not be a problem as long as they were not concentrated on those over 55.
    If the workgroup is older then it follows that the average age of those being laid off would be higher.
    As to the mix of the work group for discrimination purposes, that can get complicated. It can be by total company, by division within the company, by department or workgroup. So it’s not always obvious how EEOC would evaluate it. They would also likely look for some evidence that there was communication dictating that a protected group be targeted and I would fall out of my chair if that happened.

    If Gannett has not been very careful in who is selected I would be surprised. It would be a complete change compared to how they have done it in the past and would be an indication of gross stupidity, reduction in force fatigue, incompetence by the HR staffs or a combination of the above.

    Given the current state of the company and economy and the wave after wave of buyouts, layoffs and consolidations over burdened HR departments may not be as vigilent as in the past so who knows what might happen.

  9. Anonymous Says:

    Gannett…”the Dirty Tricks” company. Check it out for yourself.
    Olympia, Green Bay, Santa Fe, Rockford, and Cincy. Long history.
    Must be great to be a member of the Board of such an esteem company.

  10. Anonymous Says:

    I don’t know, I hate to say this, but in some way I’d almost prefer they lay me — someone in my 20s — off rather than an older employee who’s much less likely to find employment than I am. I mean, how is a 60-something employee supposed to go out and find another job? Either way it sucks. There are no winners.

  11. Anonymous Says:

    I’m over 40 and the best thing Gannett could do for me at this point is to lay me off. I’m not scared in the slightest. Bring it, baby.

  12. Anonymous Says:

    10:48 PM
    This should not be about WHO is selected for layoff, but about WHICH of the positions or job functions no longer support the grand plan to Gannett profitibility.

    Companies that think that way are going to make it. I’m not sure Gannett will, and I think in the process of chopping “people” instead of “positions,” they’ll think just the way it seems you do—that young means good and old means bad.

  13. Anonymous Says:

    I second all of that 10:54 p.m. My heart goes out to the people I know with mountains of bills and kids and dependent spouses who are sweating this out. It’s inhumane.

  14. Anonymous Says:

    Young means “cheap” and “gullible.”

  15. Anonymous Says:

    I’m 11:01. And as I said I’m over 40, have bills, have kids, have dependent spouse and yet I *swear* if I a 20something is laid off before I am, I’ll be sick to my stomach. LOL.

    Stand back kiddos I’m ready to go! 🙂

  16. Anonymous Says:

    Bless your heart, 10:45 PM.
    Just have to share this with you. During a massive layoff where I worked in 1982, I got to keep my job, but my friend, Forrest, lost his. I was 20-something and he was six months from full retirement. Well, Forrest and I came up with a plan. We convinced the boss to let him work my job those six months and I stayed home with my children (even though my husband was still in school and we had no money!) Ended up that Forrest died and I didn’t go back to work for about five years!!!

  17. Anonymous Says:

    The only song I’m hearing in Music City is the slow, somber tones of the Death March. Or could that actually be the strains of Sting’s Brand New Day instead? I guess it all depends on your perspective…but my outlook keeps changing from minute to minute. I think the worst is the not knowing.

  18. Anonymous Says:

    I feel bad that so many people having enjoyed the fun of working with people of such varied ages. I’ve learned tons from the young people I worth with and certainly from the veterans. I cherish all my newsroom memories of the old-school newshounds (even the cranky ones and the crazies, most of the time)and I am lucky to have met so many bright young people ready to embrace whatever form this all ultimately takes. I think it’s sad if newsrooms – while they still exist – lose that richness. And in newsrooms, just as in life, you can’t judge an iPod by its color – you never know what’s in there, no matter who is holding it.

  19. Anonymous Says:

    Er, have NOT enjoyed. Tired. Must sleep. Must sign off blog. Copy editor apply here.

  20. Anonymous Says:

    @10:48 But if I were laid off just to keep an equal or lesser-talented 40+ employee on the rolls so Gannett wouldn’t look bad, my age is the deciding factor in choosing whom to lay off. Which is wrong, no matter how you slice it. The only difference is that they’re protected and I’m not.

    I just don’t like the direction I’m seeing in the comments – people desperately seeking the ages of culled employees so they can get some class action lawsuit together or wave some giant anti-ageism flag. Which will make this story not about the individuals who are losing jobs, but rather about a ‘Cause.’

    My thoughts are with all my endangered coworkers, no matter what their age.

  21. Anonymous Says:

    @10:48, I totally agree.

  22. Anonymous Says:

    lol to 11:12 (this is 10:45) — Believe me, I’m not lining up to get the boot, but I know several people who are really sweating this out. My point was, I have a lot less baggage and I have the option of, say, moving back in with parents if need be. There’s life after Gannett for all of us.

    And to 11:16, I’m sure Forrest appreciated what you did. But, point taken! lol.

  23. Anonymous Says:

    10:45 – yeah, there are some who are not nearly as prepared to go as I am. It’s too bad some consultation isn’t done beforehand with employees before the final cuts aremade. There are some who would gladly be laid off (like me) and others who are not in any position to be laid off.

  24. Anonymous Says:

    With all the talk of people saying “bring on my layoff” – did anyone at any of the papers go in and volunteer today? Or say, “hey choose me”? That would be interesting to know. Especially if some people are on the edge already. No matter the age.

  25. Anonymous Says:

    Age in the legal sense is a relevant issue. Age in the sense of quality of one’s work is irrelevant. All my career I’ve worked with all ages and what I have observed is that people who stay in jobs for, say, 30 years, may not be doing it because they like it as much as it is comfortable. Now these people can still be aces at what they do, or lazy, plodding, prone to mistakes and just punching in. It has to be taken on a case-by-case basis when one is older than a certain age. Then there are the kids just out of college, who have done all kinds of internships and know lots of computer and Web skills. They are sharp, for sure. So they should not be “targets,” either. The question then becomes, how does Gannett come up with their list of layoffs? Logically it would have to be purely by salary. How long have they been preparing packets with all the paperwork they are mandated to supply? More than the few days since the layoff news hit the street. HR surely knows the age situation as far as equal opportunity goes. Surely the managers on the floor have huge input here, though they are all claiming they no nuthin’ What do you think?

  26. Anonymous Says:

    I heard of at least three who volunteered. Not sure whether they’ll get their wish. All are veterans, one is an editor, and I know two of them were turned down for buyouts a few months back.

    Wonder if the advance notice was an attempt to smoke out the vols, or if those who applied for buyouts and were rejected are at the top of the hit list? We had several.

  27. Anonymous Says:

    I think it should be:
    1)Middle Managment,since there are so many
    2)employees who were offered the first buy out and turned it down and made it thru first round of layoffs
    3)employees with a HR histroy ie;excessive sick time (not counting cancer,heart attack,etc)troublesome employees

  28. Anonymous Says:

    If Craig would just take a couple million dollar pay cut we wouldn’t have to lay off so many people.

  29. Anonymous Says:

    Regardless of what some might say, I firmly believe those over 45 were targeted, especially if you had any kind of medical problem. I’m over 50 and was the first one cut at my newspaper. I was also lied to by my Director and told I would be “safe”there. I’m also a heart patient, having suffered a heart attack immediately after a raging call from my former director at night.

    Another was over 50 and had recently had bypass surgery (he was with the company for over 20 years). Another was crippled (again over 29 years service). It goes on and on. You’d have to be blind to not see discrimination.

    but they retain HR people who do literally nothing but send out safety emails once a week. Ask them for help and you’d only get…”look it up on the web.”

    The ones still with jobs and are so grateful should take into consideration that they’re working for a company who cares absolutely nothing about them whatsoever and just as soon as they can consolidate their areas of work will unceremoniously boot them right out the same door they came into that day.

    If you’re in any area that can (and will be outsourced) I wouldn’t feel too safe if I were you.

  30. Anonymous Says:

    Everyone laid off in Des Moines so far is over 45. Clear pattern.

  31. Anonymous Says:

    Tragic, 9:44 AM. I’m so very sorry for you and anyone else is going through this.

  32. Anonymous Says:

    Can someone please sift through the info. given out at layoff time and see if you got something that lists eliminated jobs and the ages of people in those jobs. Thanks.

  33. Anonymous Says:

    You guys need to get a nation wide lawsuit against this company. Do your research and see which law firm will help you with this. There can be many items under this lawsuit; Age Discrimination, Medical Condition Discrimination and try to get compensation for all the overtime you worked and never got paid for. It may take time but get organized and do it. Also get the word out by using other media outlets and make this a huge lawsuit.

  34. Anonymous Says:

    amen, 10:36!

    something else to consider about why over-40s are protected: many people in 40-65 age group are supporting not just themselves but also their children and parents. when they are fired/layed off, 3 generations may need food stamps, medicaid, etc. then who would have to pay the taxes to support them? the 20 and 30somethings.

    it sucks for all, but the more responsibilities, the worse it sucks.

  35. Anonymous Says:

    10:36 – do you have your unpaid time documented somewhere?

  36. Anonymous Says:

    You’re jumping the gun on this lawsuit business. So far, an unsubstantial few have offered anecdotal evidence of people over 40 being laid off. Is this lawsuit to be a vehicle of retribution or a valid fight against discrimination?

  37. Anonymous Says:

    One of the finest Class Action Attorneys in the country!

    Will take cases on contingency if his firm feels the case is strong enough. Has taken on Gannett numerous times and won.

    Chesley Stanley M
    4th & Vine Twr, Cincinnati, OH 45202

  38. Anonymous Says:

    Here’s a sampling of notable civil lawsuits that Stan Chesley has helped settle over the past 30 years:
    MGM Grand Hotel fire: Las Vegas hotel fire in 1980 kills 85 and injures hundreds. Settlement is about $200 million for Chesley’s clients, the victims and families. His reported fee: More than $2.3 million.
    Agent Orange: In 1983, Vietnam War veterans sue, claiming this chemical defoliant used by the U.S. military caused cancer. Settlement is about $200 million for the vets. Chesley’s reported fee for representing them: $800,000.
    Bhopal: Poison-gas leak at Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India, in 1984 kills more than 3,300 and injures thousands of others. Chesley’s team negotiates $350 million settlement for the victims, but it’s set aside. Chesley drops out of case before $470 million settlement is reached. He reportedly lost as much as $2 million.
    Arrow Air jet crash: Chartered jet crash in 1985 kills 248 Fort Campbell, Ky., soldiers in Gander, Newfoundland. Settlement is about $100 million for victims’ families. Chesley’s reported fee for representing them: More than $1 million.
    Bjork Shiley artificial heart valve: Users claim defective heart valves made by Pfizer Inc. caused more than 310 deaths. Settlement in 1992 brings more than $200 million for the users. Chesley’s reported fee for representing them: Unavailable.
    Fernald Nuclear Weapons Plant: Chesley represents workers and residents near this Hamilton County uranium-processing plant who claim radioactive exposure caused health problems. In 1994, attorneys reach settlement of nearly $100 million for Chesley’s clients. His reported fee: $15.6 million, shared with three other attorneys.
    Pan Am Flight 103 Lockerbie crash: In a 1988 terrorist jetliner bombing over Scotland, 270 people die. Government of Libya agrees in 2003 to $2.7 billion settlement for victims’ families, whom Chesley represented. His reported fee: Unavailable.
    Fen-Phen: Chesley represents Kentuckians who claim diet drug caused heart-valve damage and other health problems. In 2001, the drug company agrees to settle for $200 million. Chesley’s reported fee: $20 million
    Sex abuse – Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington: More than 300 plaintiffs file class-action suit in 2003 against Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington. Church settles for $85 million early this year. Chesley’s reported fee for representing the plaintiffs: $18.7 million, shared with other attorneys.

  39. Anonymous Says:

    Amen 4:17 PM. Gannett wouldn’t be stupid enough to only lay off people 40 and over and put themselves in a class action suit situation. I am interested to find out, however, if anybody here who has complained over and over about working overtime and not getting paid has kept a record of this anywhere. Now that’s a lawsuit in the making.

  40. Anonymous Says:

    Jeez…you’re only looking at this as a age thing? In the Jersey group we think Gannett’s got gender issues…How many upper managers in Jersey are female? If you’re not part of the old-boy’s club, you’re not working much longer for Gannett NJ.

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