Late last week, a Federal Judge denied Pittsburgh Glass Works’ (PGW) motion to overturn the verdict in a case where the jury awarded former employee Rudolph Karlo $922,060 in an employment discrimination case. PGW had asked the court to alter or amend the judgement and filed a motion for a new trial.
In 2009, PGW trimmed approximately 100 employees from its workforce. Karlo and several other former employees filed a class action complaint against PGW in 2010 after they were terminated. Several employees, all in their 50s, say there was “discrimination against [PGW’s] older workforce,” according to the court documents.
The judge for the U.S. District Court in the Western Pennsylvania division issued a summary judgment in favor of PGW saying the class action could not go forward. However, the judge did allow one count of the complaint to proceed to trial. This count included the retaliation claims by Karlo.
In March 2009, Karlo was terminated from the company as part of a reduction in force. He was 51. He filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Less than six months after he was terminated, the human resource manager for PGW’s Creighton facility called Karlo to see if he would be interested in returning to work as a temporary employee, according to court documents.
“In the last week of June 2010, after Mr. Karlo finished delivering a routine summary of shift activities to his supervisor, Tom Showers, and another PGW manager, Bob Pinchok, Mr. Karlo was approached by Pinchok who indicated that he wanted to talk to Mr. Karlo about an important issue,” according to court documents. “Pinchok informed Mr. Karlo that PGW wanted to retain him as a production supervisor, perhaps even as a direct employee at PGW, but that ‘there is an issue out there that needs to go away.’ When Mr. Karlo attempted to ask Pinchok whether he was referring to his EEOC charge, which had been filed less than six months earlier and was then still pending before the agency, Pinchok would only say that Karlo knew ‘what issue [he was] referring to,’ and that Karlo just needed to ‘make the whole thing go away.’”
About a week after he was approached, the plant manager informed him he was being terminated by PGW, says Karlo’s attorney.
The jury found that PGW “willfully” violated the law in the case of Karlo, which meant doubling damages.
Deciding on PGW’s request for a new trial, the judge says the case relied on the credibility of the witnesses, and based on the verdict, the jury found Karlo credible.
The former employees, including Karlo, seeking class action status have appealed the lower court’s decision to the appellate level.
LKQ Corp. acquired PGW from private equity firm Kohlberg & Co. LLC and PPG Industries Inc. in April for an enterprise value of $635 million.
To read the judge’s decision, click here.