A 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that a subgroup of workers aged 50 and over can move forward with an Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) suit based on the claim they were passed over in favor of younger employees. The case in question involved seven employees of Pittsburgh Glass Works (PGW) who were fired during a series of reductions in force (RIFs). The workers allege that the RIFs were conducted without proper training or protocol, resulting in their terminations, which they believe were age-related.
Pittsburgh Glass Works manufactures auto glass. As the auto industry began to decline, PGW was forced to reduce their workforce. Unit directors were given the job of conducting the RIF. The plaintiffs allege that those unit directors assigned terminations with no apparent criteria or guidelines. Additionally, they were not required to document any rationale by which they made their choices about who to lay off, or to review those choices with corporate counsel.
The seven men, all over the age of 50, collectively filed age discrimination charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. After that investigation, the men opted to move forward with a collective lawsuit. In that action, they claimed that two of the RIFs were acts of retaliation. They also claimed that with this group of RIFs, PGW engaged in disparate treatment and disparate impact.
Eleven additional plaintiffs joined the case as it moved forward. The district court eventually dismissed the plaintiffs’ disparate impact and disparate treatment claims. However, the 3rd Circuit Court later upheld their appeal on the dismissal of the disparate impact claim. The 3rd Circuit Court found that a “subgroup” of employees over 50 can bring a claim if they can show that subgroup has been unreasonably impacted by an employer’s policy or procedure when compared to a different, younger group of employees.
The ruling is important because it prevents employers from getting around the 40+ anti-discrimination laws by asserting that the ADEA prohibition against age discrimination is based on any age. Prior to this ruling, employers could work around the ADEA, potentially discriminating against older workers provided those just over age 40 were treated fairly. As more seniors continue to work later in life, the PGW case will go a long way to ensure that these seniors are not overlooked simply because of their age.
Delaware County Employment Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Protect the Rights of Older Workers
Older employees have the same rights and protections on the job as every other employee. Seniors bring invaluable experience to the workforce and should not be discounted simply because of age. If you feel you have been unfairly treated at work because of your age, race or religion, you need the guidance of a skilled employment lawyer. Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. offer a team of aggressive Delaware County employment lawyers to fight for the best resolution for your case. Call our Center City Philadelphia office at 215-569-1999 or contact us online. Sidney L. Gold and his team of dedicated employment discrimination lawyers are proud to serve clients throughout the Greater Philadelphia area, included those in South Jersey.