GREATER LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - Employees who are minors are being phased out of Goodrich Quality Theaters. News 18 sat down with a woman who is an adult employee at a local Goodrich Quality Theater in Greater Lafayette. She wished to remain anonymous to protect her job. She said this decision is hurting in more ways than one.
"It's just sad because there are a lot of great workers who are going to be losing their jobs based on this age discrimination," she said.
She said this all started a few months ago.
"It was said, hey you guys can't hire any more minors," she said.
And as the holiday season approached with several blockbuster movies to come out, this started to cause concern.
"Christmas is coming up and that's the biggest day of the year for movie theaters and we don't have enough staff," she said.
She said local and regional managers pushed back about this decision, which came from GQT CEO Bob Goodrich, but that just made things worse. Our source said he then decided that all 16-year-old employees will be let go from Goodrich Quality Theaters in January of 2020, and the 17-year-olds will be gone by July.
This change will impact all 30 GQT theaters in Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri and Florida. There are three GQT movie theaters in Greater Lafayette.
"Across the board everyone is upset and we have so many wonderful people who are within the company trying to fight for those positions and stand up for those minors," she said.
Indiana's Age Discrimination Law only protects people between the ages of 40 and 75. Movie theaters have been a popular high school job for generations.
"When you think of a movie theater, it's a first job kind of job, it's perfect for this age group," she said. "They are trying to get that experience, their trying to get ahead, prepare for college but companies like this just keep denying those opportunities."
She added that the salaries aren't good enough and the hours aren't steady enough for an adult to make a full time career doing what teen employees do at the movie theaters. Everyone just wants to know why this is happening.
"The change.org petition cited that the CEO Bob Goodrich says that adults don't want to be served by kids," said our anonymous source. But she said no official announcement or exact reason has been given to the employees for the change.
The Wabash Landing movie theater in West Lafayette recently opened a bar in its lobby. Some have questioned if this may be the reason to let minors go, because of the precense of alcohol. Our anonymous source said other GQT locations in the Midwest have had alcohol sales for several years and had empoyees who are underage. She said the timing doesn't make sense to fire the teens because of this reason.
However the employees have something exact they want to say to the people in charge.
"It's affecting our children, its affecting our younger generations who are the future and this is something worth standing up for," she said.
News 18 sent emails to Bob Goodrich and a company PR person asking why this change is happening. We did not hear back from either of them.
Sign the petition here. Email Bob Goodrich at email@example.com or call him at 616-827-6511. This number and email were provided to News 18 by anonymous employees at local GQT theaters.