NEW YORK — A former factory manager for the dress division of The Leslie Fay Cos. has filed a $9 million age-discrimination suit against three current and former senior executives of the apparel manufacturer.
In the suit, filed in Manhattan federal court, Lee L. Kishbaugh charges John J. Pomerantz, chairman and chief executive officer; Alan Golub, the former president, and Laura Pomerantz, the outgoing executive vice president and wife of John Pomerantz, with conspiring to “get rid of” older workers, whom, he charges, they repeatedly referred to as “dead wood.”
Kishbaugh, who was 53 at the time of his firing in November 1993, is seeking $1.5 million for damage to his reputation, $2.5 million for “mental anguish and emotional stress,” and $5 million in punitive damages.
In court papers, Laura Pomerantz is described as the “most outspoken” of the defendants. She insisted the company replace older workers with “fresh young blood and fresh young faces,” it is charged.
Kishbaugh said he and other older workers were coerced into signing releases granting them “minimal separation benefits” and were told that if they did not sign the releases they would be terminated anyway.
Kishbaugh contrasted his own severance benefits with the $1 million golden parachute accorded to Laura Pomerantz, who, as reported, will leave Leslie Fay later this month.
“Such a reward to defendant Laura H. Pomerantz, who wanted to leave her employment for personal reasons, is a particularly heinous act of discriminatory favoritism and self-dealing, when compared with the meager severance terms” they gave him, Kishbaugh charged.
A Leslie Fay spokesman, noting that Kishbaugh and other workers were terminated in November, a month before the plant was closed, said the company believes the suit is “without merit” and will be “vigorously challenged in court.”
Prior to his termination, Kishbaugh said, he had been routinely commended for his work and had planned to continue working at Leslie Fay until he was 70.
Two of Leslie Fay’s attorneys, Herman Gordon and B. Michael Thrope, are also named in the suit for “aiding and abetting” the other defendants in their actions.
— Fairchild News Service

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