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Woman sues Mitchell business for age discrimination

A woman is suing a Mitchell-based company for age-based harassment and discrimination that allegedly occurred while she was employed there.

Mary Bollock, 59, filed a complaint Friday requesting a jury trial and that Boyds’ Gunstock Industries Inc. pay her damages in excess of $75,000, expenses incurred during the lawsuit and liquidated damages as allowed by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA).

According to the complaint, Bollock began her job as a marketing manager at Boyds in March 2015 and was supervised by Dustin Knutson, who was significantly younger than Bollock.

Knutson treated Bollock worse than other employees, “in a way that was designed to humiliate Bollock, to undermine Bollock’s job performance and to ostracize her from her co-workers,” the complaint alleges. He reportedly did this by making jokes about her age, saying, “that sounds like something my mother would say,” as a way of suggesting that Bollock was too old to understand modern technology, referencing her gray hair, calling her and another woman in the ADEA protected age group “the grannies” and asking her to show two younger employees, “her ‘random old lady whisker that all old ladies get.’”

According to the complaint, Bollock did her job as expected and received a $3,000 raise in 2017, but two months after getting the raise, Bollock found out that Knutson was advertising her job as an open position. Knutson reportedly said that he did this because Bollock had failed to provide him with a marketing plan. Bollock then submitted a marketing plan, and Knutson chided her for waiting to do so until she saw her job advertised online.

In July 2017, Bollock was “demoted and replaced by a younger, less experienced employee,” whom Bollock was required to train.

Bollock reported Knutson to co-workers and human resources multiple times, the complaint says, and the company’s HR manager attributed Knutson’s actions to him wanting a “thirty-something workplace.”

On Nov. 10, 2017, Bollock reportedly told Boyds’ president and founder Randy Boyd about the alleged discrimination, and Boyd reportedly said that he “did not get involved in that ‘stuff’ anymore and that his role was to make sure that Boyds was profitable.”

A week later, Bollock was demoted and assigned to another supervisor. The complaint alleges that although he was no longer supervising her, Knutson was “trailing and photographing” her at work.

Bollock again reported Knutson to human resources, and the complaint alleged that Boyds again did not take action. In December of 2017, the complaint states, “Boyds reduced Bollock’s Christmas bonus from $3,000 to approximately $600. To the best of her knowledge, she was the only similarly situated employee whose bonus was reduced.”

Bollock ultimately submitted a resignation letter on Jan. 3, 2018, and on Dec. 4, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued her a notice of right to sue.