- A federal court has granted collective action certification to the plaintiffs alleging PwC discriminated against older applicants by recruiting on college campuses and school-affiliated job sites (Rabin, et al. v. PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP, No. 16-cv-02276 (N.D. Calif. March 28, 2019)).
- The collective action is now open to individuals who applied to be an associate, experienced associate or senior associate within PwC's tax or assurance departments, were qualified for the position, were 40 or older when they applied and were denied a position, the court said.
- The court denied collective certification in July, saying that the class the plaintiffs wanted to represent was not similarly situated to them. But their revision "cured the deficiencies identified in the Court's earlier order denying collective certification," the court concluded.
Employers who recruit on college campuses will want to watch this case as it develops. It may affect the use of a recruiting technique many organizations lean on, especially in this tight talent market.
For employers that don't prioritize universities, the allegations still offer a reminder that ageism in any area of employment is illegal. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act prohibits employers from discriminating against applicants and workers age 40 and older on the basis of basis of age. And though age discrimination has been outlawed for 50 years, experts say it remains employment's open secret.
As employers assess their practices and work to eliminate or refine any that could be construed as ageist, they can consider how their language, layoffs, hiring practices and performance reviews treat age. Managers need to avoid adages like "you can't teach an old dog new tricks" and phrases such as "new blood" — this language can get employers into trouble with the ADEA, Matt Gomes, partner at Weinberg, Wheeler, Hudgins, Gunn and Dial, previously told HR Dive in an interview. And as for layoffs, employers downsizing may be tempted to cut older workers who make more than younger employees to save money. But this could create an age discrimination claim, Gomes said.