© Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Lions Reportedly Sued By Two Former Employees For Race, Age Discrimination

Richardson was the team's assistant video director and Yanagi was its video operations director.

May 08, 2018 - 1:27 pm

The Lions are being sued by two former employees claiming the team fired them out of racial and age discimination, the Free Press reported on Tuesday. 

Michael Richardson, a 52-year-old African-American, and Robert Yanagi, a 58-year-old man of Japanese decent, claim in a lawsuit against the Lions and the NFL filed in Wayne County Circuit Court that they were terminated in January "without justification."

Richardson was the team's assistant video director and Yanagi was its video operations director, according to the suit. 

Last December, Richardson filed a complaint to the Lions' human resources departement about "racist comments" made by one of his colleagues in the scouting department and disparate treatment by another colleage in the team operations department, the suit says. Yanagi, in the same complaint, also asked the employee in the scouting department to stop joking about race. 

Lions general manager Bob Quinn met with Richardson later that month and "acknowledged Richardson's complaint of race discrimination," but then "raised concerned about Richardson's work performance," according to the suit. Quinn had apparently received a work evaluation score for Richardson of 2.8 out of 5. One of the employees Richardson had complained about gave him a 1 in every category, the suit says. 

Shortly before filing his complaint to human resources, Richardson also filed a workers' compensation claim due to a shoulder injury he suffered at work. 

In Yanagi's complaint to human resources, he said Quinn "treated him differently because of his race and therefore he was concerned about losing his job." 

Both Richardson and Yanagi were fired in January, according to the suit, which claims Richardson was fired because of "his age, race and/or in retaliation for his workers' compensation claim and/or complaint about race discrimination" and Yanagi was fired for his "age, race, his complaint or for supporting Richardson," via the Free Press.