Fired Mooseheart Employee Claims Age Discrimination
71-year-old Henry Houck says director general promised him his job until 2013. Now he wants that job back, along with its benefits and nearly $273,000 in lost wages.
With nearly a quarter century of work at Mooseheart International, Henry Houck thought he had job security.
The feeling was bolstered when Director General William Airey told Houck, now 71, that he'd have a job as long as Airey held his position.
Airey's contract runs until 2013, but Houck found himself unemployed in November 2009 in what he describes as age discrimination by Mooseheart, according to an ongoing lawsuit in Kane County.
"There was no legitimate business reason for Houck's termination," the lawsuit states.
Houck wants his job and benefits back, as well as nearly $273,000 in what he claims will be the lost wages he will suffer until 2013.
Attorneys for both Houck and Mooseheart did not return phone calls seeking comment. The case was in court this week and has a February hearing scheduled.
Houck started working at Mooseheart in 1985 and most recently served as assistant director of fraternal programs. The lawsuit claims Airey promised Houck continued employment in exchange for Houck keeping the minutes at the Moose International Convention.
Airey made a "formal binding contract of employment for Houck for the length of Airey's tenure as director general," the suit states.
Houck, an Oswego resident, was fired Nov. 2, 2009. The suit, filed in June after Houck complained to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, notes three people younger than him—ages 42 to 56—took over his job, while Airey's son—also younger than Houck—was chosen to do the convention minutes.
In court filings, Mooseheart argues for the case to be thrown out because an "oral contract is unenforceable" and that Houck cannot prove the age discrimination claim. The latter is clear, Mooseheart contends, because Houck's replacements were all over 40 years old and in what is considered a protected employment class.
Located just south of Batavia, Mooseheart Child City and School has served children and teens from troubled or difficult family backgrounds for nearly 100 years. It is supported by private donations that come from and through the efforts of Moose fraternal organization members around the world.
Moose International headquarters is located at Mooseheart.