Age Discrimination Suit Against PGW Continues to Unfold
October 26, 2011

An age discrimination suit filed a year ago against Pittsburgh Glass Works (PGW) related to a March 2009 reduction in force (RIF) continues to unfold as the parties argue over whether an amended complaint should be permitted that would add allegations about the role PGW majority owner Kohlberg & Co. allegedly played in the layoffs.

Plaintiffs, which include seven former PGW employees who were 50 or older when they were released from the company in March 2009, filed a motion for permission to file an amended complaint in early October. They allege that through discovery, they’ve learned more about how the layoffs came about and how those affected were chosen. Among these claims, plaintiffs now allege that PGW failed “to adhere to extensive and long-standing written policies and procedures governing how RIFs were to be conducted within the organization, that had been in place within the automotive glass business when it was owned by PPG.”

The complaint further alleges that “at the direction of Kohlberg and company … and Kohlberg principal and CEO of PGW, Jim Wiggins, PGW arbitrarily employed such policies and practices systematically and continuously to discriminate against older workers.”

While plaintiffs say four of the named plaintiffs were hired back after the RIF on a contract basis, they allege it was “at a highly reduced level of compensation—without any credible excuse or justification.”

In the new complaint plaintiffs wish to introduce, they further allege that other “notable changes” occurred after the sale of 60 percent of the business to Kohlberg & Co.

“Even as rumors that PGW intended to conduct a RIF or multiple RIFs arose, PGW began populating the production facilities with younger, less experienced workers, who were provided with minimal training,” write the plaintiffs. “The more seasoned employees found themselves being marginalized.”

They also allege that the March 2009 RIF “was conducted in a rushed and reckless manner, without any effective oversight by [human resources] with the organization or consultation with counsel.”

The new suggested 48-page complaint details the way in which some of the employees were notified of the RIF, saying many of them were simply handed an envelope that explained what was happening. One account alleges that five employees were gathered together in a meeting room and were advised that they were losing their jobs “without any explanation, among a flurry of shuffling paper that might have been almost humorous as were it not for the tragic circumstances of their lost careers.”

They also claim that while some younger employees were allowed to seek employment with former parent company PPG, which retains a 40 percent interest in PGW, many older employees were told this would not be possible.

PGW officials have filed a brief opposing the plaintiffs’ desire to file an amended complaint, saying the plaintiffs are seeking to advance a new theory of liability, particularly with the new specific allegations directed at Wiggins and Kohlberg.

“Although plaintiffs knew about both Mr. Wiggins and Kohlberg, and mentioned them both in the [original] complaint, none of these allegations were made,” writes PGW. “ … The plaintiffs should not be entitled to treat the complaint, or in this case the first amended complaint, as a test-drive of their allegations.”

The company continues, “The proposed amendments are nothing more than an attempt to espouse a different and equally unsupported theory of age discrimination more than a year after this litigation was initiated …”

At press time the judge had not yet ruled on the motion to file the amended complaint. Stay tuned to www.glassBYTEs.com™ for more information as it becomes available.

This story is an original story by AGRR™ magazine/glassBYTEs.com™. Subscribe to AGRR™ Magazine.
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