On April 27, 2016, Steve Rabin, an older CPA who was denied employment at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (“PwC”), filed an age discrimination class and collective action on behalf of himself and all other unsuccessful PwC accountant applicants aged 40 and over from 2013 to the present. The lawsuit is titled Rabin v. PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, Case No. 3:16-cv-02276, pending in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.
The class and collective action complaint alleged that PwC has engaged in systemic discrimination against older applicants for accounting positions. For instance, PwC primarily hires entry-level accountants through campus recruiting, does not post entry-level accountant positions on its website, and for at least part of the applicable period, provided no ready mechanism for individuals no longer affiliated with a college to apply for these positions. Moreover, PwC prides itself on maintaining a young workforce, focusing on attracting and maintaining “Millennials,” and requiring partners to retire by age 60. The ageism that pervades PwC’s recruitment system and corporate culture has resulted in older accountant applicants being shut out of accounting positions at PwC.
The complaint alleged that PwC’s continuing policy, pattern, and practice of age discrimination against older accountant applicants violates federal and state laws, including Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act.
At the outset of the litigation, PwC moved to dismiss Plaintiffs’ allegation that PwC’s recruitment and hiring policies disproportionately impact applicants over the age of 40, even if PwC’s policies are facially neutral. PwC argued that disparate impact claims are not available to job applicants under the ADEA. On February 17, 2017, the district court disagreed, and held that the ADEA does allow job applicants to bring disparate impact claims. The district court also denied PwC’s request for leave to file an interlocutory appeal challenging that decision.
After the Court’s denial of Plaintiffs’ initial motion for conditional certification, on August 27, 2018 , Plaintiffs filed a renewed motion to certify a nationwide collective of qualified applicants over the age of 40 who applied to Associate, Experienced Associate, and Senior Associate positions in PwC’s Tax and Assurance lines of service. The motion requested leave to allow all such applicants to receive notice of the lawsuit and decide whether to join the case. On March 28, 2019, the district court granted the motion and notice will issue shortly.
On March 3, 2020, Plaintiffs Steve Rabin and John Chapman and defendant PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (“PwC”) filed a proposed class and collective action settlement with the Court. The settlement, if approved, will require PwC to pay $11,625,000 and implement various elements of programmatic relief to ensure that older job applicants are protected from age discrimination in hiring decisions. The parties asked the Court to schedule a “preliminary approval hearing.” If, after that hearing, the Court finds that the settlement is fair, adequate, and reasonable, then the parties will send out notice by email and mail to all covered individuals (those who have opted in by January 21, 2020 and those who applied to a covered position (Associate, Experienced Associate, and/or Senior Associate in PwC’s Tax or Assurance lines of service) between September 8, 2013 and January 21, 2020.
Visit http://www.pwcagecase.com or call (415) 638-8800 for more information.