DETROIT (WWJ) – Detroit Lions’ legend Lem Barney is suing the Detroit Medical Center, claiming age discrimination.
Barney’s attorney, Jim Acho, says Barney was hired by DMC in 2006 as Director of Patient Relations.
Acho said the harassment started when a new team of supervisors was brought in.
“Comments were made to Lem repeatedly that he should retire — that he should go live off his NFL money,” Acho told WWJ Newsradio 950. “And, mind you, he didn’t make a lot of money because players weren’t paid a lot back then like they are today.”
Barney claims in the suit that his supervisor repeatedly suggested he was “too old.”
Acho said it’s a textbook case of age discrimination.
“This is the type of thing nobody should be subjected to; much less a guy who was brought in because he’s a Detroit legend,” Acho said. “Let’s face it — the reason they hired Lem is because of who he is — not just as an athlete — but the people person that he is.”
The $290,000 suit claims Barney was demoted twice before he was terminated and he was given progressively demeaning assignments.
Acho said, by the time his client was let go, his pay had been cut by $50,000 and he was distributing parking passes … “something that was belittling to him, and the supervisor said to him, ‘Well, what are you gonna do now? Now do you think you’ll retire?’ It’s unconscionable what went on, ” Acho said.
There was no comment from the Medical Center, as of Friday afternoon.
Barney was elected to the NFL Hall of Fame following a 10-year career with the Lions that ended in 1977.