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Is On-Campus Hiring Age Discrimination? PricewaterhouseCoopers Settles Suit for $11.6 Million

February 5th, 2021 Victoria Breese


PricewaterhouseCoopers, a large accounting firm, reached a nearly $12 million settlement deal last month over age discrimination allegations. The lawsuit began when Steven Rabin, who was 50 years old, claimed he was wrongly denied a job because of his age. In March 2019, a federal judge conditionally certified a collective action of roughly 5,000 other individuals who also allegedly experienced age discrimination. After this certification, the parties began settlement negotiations and eventually reached a deal worth $11.6 million. 

Is On-Campus Hiring Age Discrimination?

The attorneys for Rabin and the collective advanced a number of age discrimination theories. Firstly, Rabin himself claimed he was wrongfully denied a job based on his age due to his relevant work experience. However, Rabin’s attorneys had additional theories regarding the roughly 5,000  individuals in the collective action. Firstly, they pointed to the “stunningly low” number of older employees in entry, lower, and mid-level positions. Additionally, they claimed that PricewaterhouseCoopers mostly hired through on-campus college recruitment. The attorneys argued that, without advertising jobs publicly, older workers would rarely be able to apply for these positions. Although the ultimate settlement deal included no admission of liability, PricewaterhouseCoopers agreed to alter its hiring process to avoid age bias in the future. 

How Age Discrimination Laws Protect Workers

There are federal, state, and city laws that protect older workers from age discrimination. Federally, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits age discrimination against employees age 40 or older. States may have additional anti-discrimination laws that provide even more worker protections than the ADEA. For example, the New York State Human Rights Act prohibits age discrimination against all employees over the age of 18. As of February 2020, the New York State law also applies to all employers, regardless of size. Finally, some city laws, like the New York City Human Rights Act, provide even more worker protections. For example, as of January 2020, the New York City law also protects independent contractors from age discrimination in the workplace. 

Is Age Discrimination at Work Becoming more Common?

As of 2017, more than 6 in 10 employees over the age of 45 say they have experienced or witnessed age discrimination in the workplace. Additionally, experiences of age discrimination have correlated with racial differences. For example, 77% of black employees, 61% of hispanic employees, and 59% of white employees have experienced or witnessed age discrimination in the workplace. Given that the CDC has warned that older people are at higher risk during the pandemic, the EEOC has agreed that employers ought to maximize workplace flexibility for older workers. 

Seek Legal Assistance Today 

If you have experienced age discrimination in the workplace, seek legal assistance from the Working Solutions Law Firm, located in New York City and Livingston, NJ. Contact us today at (646) 430-7930 to schedule a free case evaluation and receive experienced legal counsel.