Roy Lester Says New York State Was Trying To Weed Out Older Workers

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Roy Lester spent 40 years as a lifeguard until he was fired from his job at Jones Beach in 2007.

Lester claims he was forced out because he refused to take his annual swimming test in a Speedo.

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EXTRA: Court Documents (pdf)

“They said if you want to wear a fast suit when you’re taking the test you have to wear the little Speedos that we issue,” Lester told 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera. “I said, ‘No, I’m not going to do that. I’m going to wear my jammers.'”

1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera reports: Too Old For A Speedo? 

The 61-year-old said he prefers bike shorts.

“I won’t wear a Speedo — no more than I would walk around in my underwear. And I’m not going to walk around in my underwear,” Lester told CBS 2’s Katie Fehlinger.

“I show up, they say, ‘We won’t let you take the test,'” Lester said. “So that was the end of my lifeguarding.”

But he had other options.

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“Everybody has to wear state-issued gear, so you either have to wear the Speedo or you could wear board shorts or anything that’s state issued to make it fair for everybody,” Jones Beach lifeguard Rob Hildebrand said.

In fact, all of the guards donned the looser trunks. Still, Lester wanted something form fitting so he’d have a faster time on his speed test. However, the state flat out said no to the jammers. So Lester, who is a bankruptcy lawyer by day, filed an age discrimination suit against the state. He believes older lifeguards were being weeded out. He estimated 80 percent of them are over 40.

“All of a sudden they’re banning the swimsuits that the older lifeguards were using,” Lester said.

He said there should be a law against anyone over 50 wearing the skimpy, form-hugging swimwear.

“It’s not an attractive look,” Lester said.

Lester is suing the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation for age discrimination.

His case has been dismissed twice before on technicalities. An appeals court has reinstated his claim and the case could go to trial in Nassau County either this year or next.

A spokesman for the state Parks Department said there will be no comment on the pending legislation.

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