A 69-year-old former salesman of Fior Di Sole, a custom crush and bulk-wine facility and the parent company of Ca’ Momi Winery and Ca’ Momi restaurants in Napa, has filed a lawsuit against the company for allegedly firing him for being “too old.”
Joseph White claims that he was fired shortly after his age was revealed to co-workers and he chose not to attend an employer-sponsored mandatory seminar.
The company denies the allegations in the lawsuit filed in California’s Napa County Superior Court.
The Napa Valley Register first reported the lawsuit on Monday. Emails to White’s lawyer, Charles Wisch, who specializes in employment law, were not immediately returned, nor were emails to Fior Di Sole’s lawyer, David Dell of Coombs and Dunlap.
According to the lawsuit, White began working for Quaterna, LLC, now known as Fior Di Sole, as a regional sales manager in 2014, selling wine in Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska.
While attending a regional sales managers’ meeting in Napa, the national sales manager asked White his age aloud, the lawsuit said. White hesitated, but eventually admitted he was 67. The national manager then said, according to the lawsuit, that White was “too old” to work in the industry.
During the three-day meeting, the lawsuit said there was a mandatory seminar on “Sacred Commerce,” which was described as “a manual for building a spiritual community at the workplace.” White, a Roman Catholic, and another employee requested to leave early to attend a Catholic Mass, according to the lawsuit. Afterward, both were criticized for leaving, the lawsuit said. White was fired on May 1, 2015.
A hearing has been scheduled for November 14.