Our San Francisco and Riverside County employment attorneys report a spike in age discrimination lawsuits this week. One was filed this week by a Certified Public Accountant by the name of Steve Rabin against the internationally renowned consulting and accounting firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers (Rabin v. PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, No. 3:16-cv-02276.) Similar to a number of other age discrimination law suits against technology companies (especially in Silicon Valley), this Complaint focused on the fact that PWC discriminated against people over 40 years of age in its hiring when solely hired most of its consultants either directly out of college or immediately thereafter. This policy directly conflicts with federal and state laws that protect individuals over 40 from facing age-based discrimination in the workplace.
In addition to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”) protecting those over 40 against age-based discrimination, California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) has age discrimination protection provisions. FEHA prohibits employment discrimination, harassment, and retaliation based on age (for employees or contractors 40 years or older). If proven in court, a plaintiff may recover unlimited monetary damages, including back pay, emotional distress, punitive damages, and any other out-of-pocket losses. Complaints must first be filed with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (“DFEH”) within one year from the date of the alleged unlawful act. They may then be filed in court. Select the following blogs for more information on FEHA and ADEA.
Mr. Rabin, who is a 53 year old accountant, was denied employment as an accountant for PWC seemingly because he did not meet its pre-designed age group. Rabin is among thousands of others in his industry that face companies that aim to maintain a younger workforce both for appearance and to lower its compensation requirements. Similar lawsuits exploded during the economic downturn. One of these was where IBM was found to lay off a large number of employees over 40 only to then turn right around and hire new graduates for those same positions. A lawsuit on this is pending. For PWC and other similar accounting firms, the average age is late twenties when the median age for U.S. accountants is 43. In a wise move, Facebook settled similar claims a few years ago that it violated the law by posting job advertisements seeking recent college graduates, and similar lawsuits making similar restrictive, and discriminatory, claims are pending against Google and Twitter.
Another age discrimination case made news this week where a former division chief for the San Bernardino County Fire Protection District, George Corley, was awarded $704,000 by a jury. His main allegation was that he was fired due to his age and that it was considered as a “substantial motivating reason.” After the illegal termination, Corley at 58 years of age was forced to take a $10 per hour pay cut and lose some of his pension benefits. Other firefighters received similar mistreatment as an alleged cost-savings measure and their cases are pending.
If you believe that you, or another employee, suffered an employment law matter related to age discrimination in the workplace (or retaliation for reporting or complaining about such conduct), prompt action to preserve your rights is vital since the statute of limitation is a short one year. Contact the experienced employment law attorneys at Stephen Danz & Associates for a free no obligation consultation to discuss your circumstances and legal options.