PwC pays $11m over age discrimination challenge

PwC has made a $11m (£8m) settlement to end a US lawsuit relating to claims the firm discriminated against older workers, and has agreed to a number of changes in its recruitment policies

The lawsuit was filed almost four years ago in a California court by Steve Rabin, a 53-year-old certified public accountant, who alleged violations of the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act.

Subsequently, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) and the law firm of Outten & Golden supported a class action on the issues.

The lawsuit asserted that the number of workers 40 years of age and older in entry-level and lower to mid-level positions at PwC was ‘stunningly low’ and claimed the firm’s policies and practices had the effect of deterring would-be applicants aged 40 and older from applying and denying job opportunities to those individuals aged 40 and older who do apply.

According to the plaintiffs, PwC failed to hire them and others into associate, senior associate, and experienced associate positions in the tax and assurance lines of service, because they were over 40 years old, in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 and of California and Michigan antidiscrimination laws. PwC denied having engaged in any unlawful discrimination.

The parties have agreed to settle all claims in the lawsuit for $11.625m. PwC has also agreed to enhance certain of its recruiting procedures geared toward further attracting qualified older applicants for entry-level jobs. 

PwC said it will advertise directly to older populations of potential job applicants. For the positions covered by the lawsuit, the firm agreed not to ask pre-offer applicants who have graduated for their graduation date, and not have eligibility limits based on graduation year (except where the graduation date is in the future) or age.

It is also taking steps to enhance the ability of alumni to apply to positions available through on-campus recruiting programs, which promotes an age-diverse applicant pool.

In addition, the firm is updating its complaints procedures to cover complaints of age discrimination, and is to provide a summary of the substance of age-related complaints by applicants to the roles question, without identifying any individual applicant, and the outcome of each such complaint.

Shannon Schuyler, PwC’s chief purpose and inclusion officer, said: ‘PwC is proud to affirm its commitment to identify and hire older workers. 

‘The commitments in this settlement will help PwC remain one of the most sought-after employers in the country. 

‘Our workforce represents the diversity of perspective, life experiences and backgrounds, and welcomes talented workers across the age spectrum.’

The parties agreed that the settlement is not an admission of liability by PwC.

PwC settlement

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