Pittsburgh Glass Works (PGW) has responded to an appeal by former employees who allege age discrimination after they were terminated as a part of a reduction in workforce for the company in 2009. The company says the Third District Court of Appeals should uphold the lower court’s decision and the appeal should be dismissed.
Former Employees’ Appeal
In 2009, PGW trimmed approximately 100 employees from its workforce. Rudolph Karlo and several other former employees filed the class action complaint against PGW in 2010 after they were terminated.
“On March 31, 2009, appellants, all 50 years of age or older, were terminated by PGW in a company-wide reduction in force (RIF) of its salaried employees in the United States. Appellants sued after determining the RIF had a disparate impact on employees age 50 and older,” according to the appeal.
The original judge for the District Court conditionally certified the class action under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). Following discovery, the judge recused herself and the case was reassigned to Judge Terrence F. McVerry. He decertified the class.
Attorneys for the appellants say the second District Court judge was wrong by deviating from the original judge’s ruling.
Though the District Court judge issued a summary judgment in favor of PGW saying the class action could not go forward, he did allow Count 3 of the complaint to proceed to trial at the District Court level. This count included the retaliation claims by Karlo and former PGW employee Mark McLure.
A U.S. District Court jury found that PGW “willfully and unlawfully retaliated against a former employee in violation of the Age Discrimination Employee Act (ADEA).” The jury awarded Karlo $922,060.
Former employee McLure, who also complained of retaliation by the company, entered a settlement with the company.
PGW argues that the named plaintiffs were not similarly situated to any former employees who opted in to the case. The named plaintiffs were part of the same group, had similar positions, and worked for the same manager who included them in the March 2009 reduction-in-force, according to court documents.
The opt-in plaintiffs had different job titles, duties, locations and decision-makers who used different procedures in selecting employees for the reduction-in-force, according to PGW.
PGW further says the expert testimony introduced by the plaintiffs was flawed and unreliable, therefore it was rightly discarded by the lower court.
“Plaintiffs were unable to present any evidence of a retained employee who was similarly situated and sufficiently younger than any plaintiff,” according to the court documents.
The District Court reviewed the record and determined that plaintiffs’ claims failed as a matter of law, PGW says. As such, the lower court’s ruling should be upheld.
To read the appellants court filing, click here.
To read PGW’s response, click here.