Former PPG Employees Amend Complaint in Age Discrimination Suit

The former PPG Industries employees who filed a class and collective action suit against the company in May 2007 filed an amended complaint on August 7, 2007. The group, which includes former PPG employees Arthur C. Rupert, Linda K. Austin, Larry L. Campbell, Kenneth J. Hunt and Wade C. Bittner, originally filed the suit on May 24, 2007, via their counsel, Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel LLP. They allege that PPG's practices "discriminate against its older work force in conducting Reductions-in-Force ('RIFs') and forced retirements over an extended period of time."

More specifically, the employees claim that PPG conducts "standardless performance evaluations, which allowed PPG to manipulate and distort its older workers' records of performance in order to create a pretext for terminating older workers."

Likewise, the group alleges that the company "secretively adopt[s] and employ[s] methods for evaluating, ranking and selecting employees for terminations in its regular RIFs, which result[s] in the termination of disproportionately high numbers of older workers." The complaint also alleges that PPG fails "to exercise appropriate supervision or control over managers who select older workers for termination" and that the company's "corporate culture fosters and encourages pervasive ageist stereotypes "

Finally, the plaintiffs also allege that older workers at PPG have been compelled to accept retirement packages "identical to what was available to workers who were simply terminated" and that the company has "fail[ed] and refus[ed] to reinstate, retrain and/or re-locate older emplyees into positions that matched their job qualifications which became available after their termination in violation of PPG's written polices governing employees terminated in RIFs."

The group of plaintiffs, led by attorney Bruce Fox, alleges that the above practices and others named in the complaint are in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA).

According to court documents, the group is filing a class action suit under the terms of ADEA, which it says makes it unlawful for an employer to discharge an employee "for the purpose of interfering with the attainment of any right to which such participant may become entitled under the provisions of an employee benefit plan." The class includes the named plaintiffs and "all former salaried employees of PPG whose employment with PPG within the United States was terminated by PPG or who were pressured by PPG to resign or retire and who were at least 40 years of age at the time of such termination, resignation or requirement."

The collective action (which is a legal term applied specifically to suits that allege violations of both ADEA and the Fair Standards and Labor Act and requires participants in the suit to "opt in") makes similar allegations to those previously noted that appear in the class action suit.

The complaint says the practices noted therein began "in or about 1997, when Raymond LeBoeuf became PPG's chief executive officer and chairman of the board." (LeBoeuf retired in 2005, and Charles Bunch now serves as president, chairman and chief executive officer for the Pittsburgh-based company.)

In the collective action suit, the group is seeking "reasonable monetary damages, including back pay front pay, benefits and all other damages in an amount proven at the trial," along with a number of other judgments.

The class seeks several judgments, including a mandate that PPG officers discontinue the practices alleged in the complaint, along with "further legal and equitable relief as may be found appropriate."

At press time, the due date for PPG's response to the suit had been extended through September 10.

Stay tuned to glassBYTEs.com™ for updates as they become available.

CLICK HERE to read the full text of the amended complaint.

Need more info and analysis about the issues?
CLICK HERE to subscribe to AGRR magazine.