Former employees of numerous bowling alleys are speaking out after they say they were sacked when their beloved alleys were taken over by a nationwide chain because they didn’t fit the company’s image.
A Manhattan staple since the late 1990s, Bowlmor Lanes began expanding and bought the AMF bowling chain, which owned alleys across the country, in 2013. Many of their metropolitan locations adopted a trendier image intended to attract a young and hip crowd.
“It was a nightclub atmosphere,” Andy Weimer, a former manager at one of the bowling alley chain’s locations, told Inside Edition.
When the new company took over some former employees began to feel they didn't fit the new mold and say they were ultimately fired.
“I was replaced by a 25 year old,” Weimer told Inside Edition, adding that he wasn’t even told in person that he was out of a job. “Over the phone, they fired me. Twenty-five years as a manager.”
Pete Mackracken, a general manager with 20 years’ experience, said he was fired over the phone as well.
“Everybody was the age of my sons,” Mackracken said of the bowling alley’s new hires. “I thought I was looked at as a dinosaur.”
Bowlmor AMF says none of these employees worked in their trendier locations.
Between 2013 and 2015, the company fired 287 managers from its 351 locations, The New York Post reported.
Among them was Miguel Martinez, who managed a bowling alley in Queens, New York for 40 years before he was suddenly given the boot.
“We didn’t fit the poster,” Martinez said of those fired. “They can’t put us in an ad. We don’t look that great … They were all young, like they came out of GQ [magazine] and we looked out of place.”
Attorney Daniel Dowe has filed complaints with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission [EEOC] on behalf of more than 50 former Bowlmor employees across the country.
“They were not young and hip. They did not meet management’s standards of what they should look like,” Dowe said.
But the bowling behemoth is fighting back.
In a statement to Inside Edition, the company said: “Bowlmor AMF does not discriminate on the basis of age or in any other fashion … the company will vigorously defend any claims and believes that it will prevail.”
The company also said that in each case of termination, employees were let go for legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons and none of the allegations made against Bowlmor AMF have merit.