KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Sixteen-year-old Aiden Williford loves movies.
"I do like Jumanji a lot...I also like one of the old ones, 'How to Train a Dragon.' That's one of my favorite movies," he says.
That passion led Aiden to get his first job last summer at the Kalamazoo 10 movie theater. He performed various jobs there but mostly worked concessions.
"I got the hang of everything and it became easy, and then got to the point to predict what people would want and ask," says Williford.
But everything changed one day when Aiden's manager gathered all of the 16- and 17-year-old employees, as the teen explains it.
"He grabbed us all and said 'hey guys I don't want to tell you this but we might have to let you go on Jan. 1st,'" says Williford.
A termination letter confirms that it was not performance-based, stating: "Change in hiring and retaining of minors per Bob Goodrich. This is not a reflection of the employee's performance. This decision was solely that of Mr. Goodrich."
"The manager told us that he refuses to sign the termination letter because he just doesn't agree with it," says Jennifer Williford, the teen's Mother.
Goodrich owns multiple theaters across West Michigan and the Midwest. Jennifer Williford claims that dozens of employees were affected and that led her to file this formal complaint with the State of Michigan.
"We've filed an official complaint with the Michigan Department of Civil Rights. The representative I've been working with seems pretty confident that there was a violation," says Jennifer Williford.
Other teenage employees who were let go have started an online petition to get their jobs back. It currently has more than 10,000 signatures.
"I didn't think that someone would just fire them because of their age," says Jennifer Williford.
13 ON YOUR SIDE reached out to Goodrich theaters multiple times for comment and have not yet received a response.
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