Helping older applicants get jobs at PwC
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. The Parties agree that the Settlement is not an admission of liability.
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 alleges 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 provides 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 almost completely shut out of accounting positions at PwC.
The complaint alleges 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 and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. PwC disputes the allegations in the Complaint.
In February 2017, the Court ruled that Plaintiffs can pursue disparate impact claims against PwC under the ADEA. PwC had argued that job applicants are not allowed to pursue such claims under federal law. You can find more information about this recent ruling here.
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.
The Goal of the Lawsuit
The class action seeks seeks to require PwC to hire accountants based on merit alone, without regard to their age, and to compensate accountants who might have been hired but for PwC’s discriminatory practices.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Who does this lawsuit cover?
All applicants ages 40 and older who were denied Associate, Experienced Associate, or Senior Associate positions in the US anytime from September 2013 to the present may be included.
- What if I was impacted by PwC’s forced retirement at age 60?
While the complaint does not target forced retirement claims, it is possible that a forced retirement rule could lead to age discrimination in hiring by making the company less willing to bring on new hires who would be required to retire sooner than younger workers. Please call us if you were impacted by this policy.
- What if I worked for PwC but wasn’t promoted or was paid less than my peers?
Although these kinds of claims are not covered by the complaint in this case, they may be relevant to our challenge. Please call us if you would like to provide further information.
- What if I applied to a different company but have similar concerns?
We are investigating age discrimination by other companies. This lawsuit only covers PwC. Contact us if you would like to learn more about your rights.