Santa Suit Filed Against Mall

Michael Graham has been the Santa at Tyson's Corner Center for 18 years. He bags about $30,000 for five weeks' work. The rest of the year, he's a carpenter in Tennessee. Last month, the mall gave Graham the boot. Graham sued. His contract is apparently good through 2012, and he claims the mall didn't give him enough time to find another job. After hundreds of angry calls from shoppers, a mall spokeswoman offered an apology. She said company officials are working with Graham to reach a financial settlement and find him another Santa seat.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

There are also labor talks going on in a mall in a Virginia suburb outside Washington, D.C. And our last word in business today is about those talks. The word is Santa Suit. Michael Graham has been donning a red suit and white beard for 18 years. He is the Santa at the mall at Tyson's Corner Center. He gets about $30,000 for five weeks' work, although he does work seven days a week. Has to deal with all those kids. Rest of the year, he's a carpenter in Tennessee. Late last month, the mall, though, gave Graham a pink slip. They had hired a new Santa.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

But Santa - or in this case Graham - did not ride away quietly on his sleigh. He sued. His contract is apparently good through 2012, and he claims the mall didn't give him enough time to find another job over the Christmas holidays. Being a local celebrity helps. Angry shoppers threatened to boycott the mall. And after hundreds of calls, a mall spokeswoman offered an apology. She said company officials are working with Graham to reach a financial settlement and also to find him another spot to be Santa. That's the business news on Morning Edition from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

INSKEEP: And I'm Steve Inskeep.

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