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A law firm’s newspaper ad seeking witnesses to sexual harassment at a local Wal-Mart store has triggered yet another legal headache for the giant retailer: an age discrimination lawsuit. A group of nine New York employees is suing Wal-Mart Stores Inc. for $20 million, alleging the Wal-Mart in Monticello, N.Y., routinely fires older, more experienced workers and replaces them with younger, less experienced employees. The age bias suit, filed Feb. 11 in federal court in the Southern District of New York, came just weeks after a sexual harassment lawsuit was filed against the same store by the same law firm. Cory Rosenbaum of New York’s Rosenbaum Faria said his firm learned about the age bias claims after putting an ad in a local paper seeking information about alleged sexual harassment at the store. He said the firm ended up receiving “call after call from older people” alleging discrimination, claiming that Wal-Mart was trying to make work unbearable for them so that they’d either quit or be fired for refusing to perform certain duties. Rosenbaum alleged that Wal-Mart routinely required the age bias plaintiffs to perform demeaning tasks outside their job duties — such as scrub toilets, wash floors or collect shopping carts out in the cold — and then reprimanded or fired them if they refused. “I think Wal-Mart wants to cut their legs off,” Rosenbaum said, referring to older workers. “They’re forcing them out. And if they can’t get them to leave, they can them.” Rosenbaum is also representing a group of women who allege that they were sexually harassed at the Monticello store, and when they complained, the store did not respond appropriately and therefore subjected them to further abuse and a hostile work environment. Wal-Mart officials were not available for comment. A response has not been filed in either the age discrimination suit, Crowell v. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., or the sexual harassment suit, Jackson v. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. The latest lawsuits follow a series of major settlements that Wal-Mart has paid over the past year to resolve employment disputes. Most recently, Wal-Mart agreed in December to pay $40 million to resolve what may be the largest wage-and-hour class action settlement in Massachusetts history. In February 2009, Wal-Mart paid $17.5 million to settle claims that it discriminated against black candidates when recruiting truck drivers. In December 2008, WalMart resolved a six-year-old wage-and-hour lawsuit in Minnesota for $54.25 million. Also that month, it agreed to pay up to $640 million to settle 63 wage-and-hour class actions across the country.

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