TERRE HAUTE (AP) -- A former garden manager for the Sisters of Providence who was fired last year has filed a federal age discrimination lawsuit against the order.
Larry Bown, who maintained gardens, an orchard and a herd of alpacas for the White Violet Center for Eco-Justice, said he was told he was too old for the job and fired in February 2002. He was then 59.
Bown, of New Goshen, filed the lawsuit in January based on the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, a federal law passed in 1967 that prohibits an employer from discriminating against employees 40 or older.
"You can't fire someone because of their age," Bown told the Tribune-Star for a story published Friday.
Bown, who is representing himself in the lawsuit, is seeking $500,000 for lost wages, medical benefits and mental and emotional distress. A trial date has not been set.
David Sullivan, an attorney representing the Sisters of Providence, said Bown's case has no merit and his allegations are untrue. The order declined further comment on the case.
Bown said he was fired after Sister Ann Sullivan, director of the center, told him he was too old to do the job and that she "was afraid that he might drop dead" while working.
Hired in April 1997 as a temporary assistant gardener, Bown was promoted two months later to a full-time garden and greenhouse manager.