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Bills Want Age Discrimination Lawsuit Dismissed, Handed Over to NFL

6:52 PM, Aug 1, 2013   |    comments
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BUFFALO, NY - The Buffalo Bills want to see an age discrimination lawsuit against them thrown out of federal court in Erie County. And that has the former equipment manager of the team, David Hojnowski, who's at the center of the lawsuit - speaking out for the first time.

"We were never really clearly given a clear explanation of as to why I was let go and to this day, they still haven't told me," said the 54-year-old Hojnowski, who filed the claim in April.

Hojnowksi had been with the team for 37 years. But according to documents filed in federal court, the team wants the case dismissed -- claiming the NFL should take it over and that Commissioner Roger Goodell should be the arbitrator.

Before the documents were filed, the Bills had been quiet on the case.

"I just feel that being an employee of the owners, I'm not sure he [Goodell] will be completely impartial and be sensitive to my side of the argument," Hojnowski said.

His side of the story begins in 2010, when former Bills general manager Buddy Nix came to the team. He says at that point, Nix, former head coach Chan Gailey and equipment staffers insulted him daily based on his age, for two years.

Hojnowski says Gailey made a joke after he had an accident on the job by saying: "that's what happens to old guys, they are more likely to get hurt."

Hojnowski says Nix in a conversation asked him how old he was and how long he planned to work for the Bills. Hojnowski claims Nix fired him shortly after his wife inquired about post-retirement health benefits for him.

"This critical event of terminating him when they realized that he was going to qualify for this benefit to me was a distinct act of greed," said Hojnowski.

But, the team is pointing to an employment agreement that Hojnowski signed in 2011.

Scott Horton, an attorney for the Bills says the team is "following the procedure that is in Mr. Hojnowski's employment contract."

But, even with the agreement, legal experts say Hojnowski could still win the case.

"Sometimes if the people don't have an attorney or if the contract is onerous and too one-sided, a court may have to come in and set aside that agreement," said Mike Taheri, a criminal defense attorney.

Hojnowski says that he never raised a complaint with the team, because he says he didn't think the team would fix his problem.

His attorney believes this case should be heard in federal court in Erie County and that the alleged discrimination holds more weight than the agreement.

The NFL did not respond to our call for comment about Hojnowski's case. A judge is in the process of deciding what should be done next.

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