The Kansas City Chiefs had plenty of problems on the field this year. They catalogued a losing record, sacked their head coach Todd Haley, and with the help of some key injuries, managed to rank last in the AFC West standings.
But, as the rest of the football world prepares for the Super Bowl next Sunday, more bad press is surfacing for the Chiefs, suggesting a world of different issues off the field. A recent Kansas City Star article reports that prior to being fired, Haley believed his actions and phone calls were being monitored by upper management officials looking to keep tabs on employee behavior. The article goes on to cite a "former high-ranking staffer" stating that "if you make the wrong step, you might not be able to pay your mortgage."
Interestingly enough, the Chiefs' former community outreach manager, Brenda Sniezek, experienced such pressure, getting the axe after serving the organization for nearly 30 years. Adding to the drama, Sniezek is refusing to go quietly, throwing Kansas City attorneys into the mix in a wrongful termination civil suit surrounding the organization's alleged age discrimination practices.
According to the court's petition for damages, Sniezek's worry began when General Manager Scott Pioli came on in 2009 and began declaring his intention to make major changes to the organization's culture. Pioli was later allegedly overheard saying "We're going to get rid of everyone who was with [former General Manager] Carl Peterson, especially anyone over the age of 40."
The petition goes on to describe how after a seemingly positive performance in 2010, Sniezek was fired in early 2011 on the grounds of "reduction in force," though the file claims her position was "re-assigned rather than eliminated."
And in an attempt to show a pattern of age discrimination, the petition also notes that "every person with significant tenure and responsibility who was terminated … has been replaced with a significantly younger employee."
Though a compelling case, Sniezek's Kansas City lawyers will need to identify irrefutable evidence or confessions if the jury is to award damages and back pay.