PwC’s US firm faces age discrimination claim

PwC’s US arm is facing a federal class action which accuses the firm of engaging in ‘systemic and pervasive’ discrimination against older job applicants, by adopting ‘a pattern and practice of age discrimination’ against accounting job applicants that are 40 years of age and older

The case has been brought in a California court by Steve Rabin, a 53-year-old certified public accountant, who is alleging violations of the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. 

According to the complaint: ‘PwC's culture and practice has distributed the benefits of its enormous success unequally – systematically favouring younger applicants at the expense of their older counterparts.’

The lawsuit asserts that the number of workers 40 years of age and older in entry-level and lower to mid-level positions at PwC is ‘stunningly low’ and claims the firm’s policies and practices have 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.

The complaint asserts that PwC intentionally refuses to hire older accounting applicants because of their age and uses a biased recruitment tool for entry-level accountant hiring that only accepts applications from individuals currently affiliated with a university.

It also accuses the firm of having ‘a strong corporate preference’ for attracting millennial workers and says a mandatory retirement age of 60 for partners may contribute to the alleged discrimination in hiring.

Rabin said: ‘I hope this case causes older job candidates to be evaluated based on their ability to perform the job, rather than how well they “fit in” at a firm where the average employee age is 27.’

A spokesperson for PwC in the US said: 'The claim is false. PwC's hiring practices offer equal opportunity to all applicants, and the firm devotes enormous resources to recruiting a diverse workforce.

'Like most employers, PwC recruits at the nation's colleges and universities, and the firm hires individuals at all experience levels and across the age spectrum.'

Rabin’s case is being handled by law firms Outten & Golden and The Liu Law Firm, with the support of the AARP Foundation which campaigns on issues facing over-50s in the US.

The case is Rabin v PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, Case No. 3:16-cv-02276, pending in the US District Court for the Northern District of California.

Details of the class action are here

 

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