Unemployment Jumps to 9.4 Percent, Highest Level Since August, 1983

"Lawrence Livermore Laboratory has always regarded its employees as its greatest asset. Laboratory management was very mindful of the economic difficulties for any employee who may be subject to the restructuring and offered a voluntary separation program. It was the hope of the laboratory that 750 employees would seek to exercise this program, thus negating the need for involuntary layoffs. Unfortunately, only 216 employees enrolled in the program, which prompted the need for the Involuntary Separation Plan," he said.

The vast majority of the employees who worked at the Lab were older than 40.

On the other side of the country in Florida, Helene Maticic, who goes by Holly, became one of the thousands of people to recently file an age discrimination complaint.

The 73-year-old Florida resident worked five years in the produce department at the Whole Foods Market in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. She was fired in June of 2008 "for reasons other than misconduct connected with the work," according to a November 2008 decision by the Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation.

Or in her words: "This was flagrant age discrimination," Maticic told ABC News. "I know they wanted a younger worker. I know I was replaced by someone younger."

Maticic said the store manager would make her climb ladders to hang signs. She was working six hours a day. He raised it to eight and gave her a night shift.

"I did everything I was asked to whether it was light or heavy. I came in on time, I didn't complain," she said.

Older Workers Facing Layoffs

When she asked for reduced hours, she recalled, "The manager would say things like `Poor holly, she's getting old, we've got to take special care of her.'"

Then Maticic had a foot problem and took an approved medical leave in April, she said.

Her return to work was supposed to be June 9, 2008. A few days before, she sent word that she was soon ready to return to work.

"For a week, I called and sent e-mails and went to the store to find out what my schedule was but the manager put me off and wouldn't tell me when I could come back," Maticic said.

She kept going in, but was not put to work.

"I finally got hold of the manager and was told I was terminated for not coming to work. I was terminated for failure to come to work. What baloney, I was trying for a week to come back," Maticic said.

Her unemployment has since run out and she has had a hard time finding a new job.

"I'm 73. I have grey hair. People are looking for young people. I understand," Maticic said. "But then they hire young people and they find out young people don't do as good a job and don't give damn."

Whole Foods spokeswoman Libba Letton said can't comment specifically about Maticic's case except that it is the grocery-store chain's position that age was not a factor in her dismissal.

"We have a reputation for having a really unique culture. Since our first little grocery store 30 years ago, we've always believed strongly that direct and open communication and respect and love for the individual and self-empowerment, that those are the things we wanted to base our culture on," Letton said. "As our company has grown, we've continued to let those values guide us. It just goes against everything that we are that we would discriminate based on anything like that."

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