NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Eight former employees of The Times-Picayune have sued the newspaper and parent Advance Publications Inc., alleging their layoffs violated a longstanding "job security pledge" and age discrimination laws.

The plaintiffs were 46 to 59 years old when they lost jobs ranging from warehouse worker to reporter. Suits filed last week in Orleans Parish Civil District Court claim they either were not allowed to apply or applied unsuccessfully for lower-paid replacement jobs.

Times-Picayune publisher Ricky Mathews did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

All eight plaintiffs said they relied on a longstanding company pledge not to fire non-union workers because of economic or technological changes.

According to The Mobile Press-Register, an Advance publication, publishers in the chain told employees in 2009 that the pledge would be eliminated in 2010.