The 55-year-old plaintiff in the latest case worked for the firm for more almost 40 years, most recently as a research and development buyer. He asserts the company targeted older workers – including himself – in a 2012 layoff. After filing a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, the government gave him permission to sue (which is a mandated step in the process). He is now seeking class action status.
The San Diego Tribune reports the DFEH has been in receipt of nearly three dozen age discrimination complaints made against this same company since mid-2012. Two dozen of those complainants were given the green light to file an employment lawsuit. More than half a dozen were dismissed or withdrawn and one was deemed outside the department’s jurisdiction. In a USA Today in-depth analysis on age discrimination complaints the DFEH in California, Hewlett Packard ranked No. 1 among Silicon Valley firms. Others included Cisco Systems, Apple, Google, Oracle and Genetech. Other companies like Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Intel and Tesla Motors also made the list. The majority of those complaints alleged wrongful termination, while some did allege age discrimination in the course of hiring and promotion.
Triggering these cases has been an uptick in acquisitions and mergers in recent years, which companies say necessitates reduction of redundancy when consolidating. That has meant reorganizations, layoffs and tighter performance reviews – which plaintiffs say has unfairly (and illegally) targeted older workers. There is concern that we’ll continue to see these kind of complaints as these firms continue with mergers and acquisitions and spin-offs.
Hewlett Packard reorganized and in 2012 later in 2015 split into two firms (Hewlett Packard Enterprises and HP Inc.). The company also made a number of acquisitions. The firm has reportedly laid-off nearly 2,100 workers in California as part of the 2015 reduction plan. It’s worth noting that 85 percent of those workers were over the age of 40. And when the company issued a diversity mandate for outside hiring practices, age was not listed as a required criteria.
As our Orange County age discrimination lawyers know, companies are well within their rights to enact layoffs when there is redundancy in the workforce. However, what they are not allowed to do is take adverse employment action based in whole or in part one someone being older (over the age of 40). Yet that is exactly what plaintiffs are alleging Hewlett Packard has done.
California Code of Regulations, Chapter 5, Subchapter 2, Article 10 outlines age discrimination and consequences. Specifically with regard to termination and disciplinary actions, 2 CCR Section 11086 holds that it’s not a violation of the law for an employer to terminate, discharge, demote, dismiss or otherwise discipline a worker over 40, assuming the worker fails to perform normal functions of the job or who fails to conform to bona fide requirements of the position, as long as the performance standards held by the company and position aren’t discriminatory to someone 40 or older. However, such actions must be based on the quality of work; they can’t be arbitrary or based on the age of the worker.
Several workers have already reached confidential settlements with the firm, though as this latest case shows, we have likely not heard the last of these complaints.
Contact the employment attorneys at Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Orange County, Riverside and Los Angeles. Call 949.375.4734.
Lawsuit alleges age discrimination at Hewlett-Packard, Dec. 6, 2017, By Morgan Cook, San Diego Tribune
More Blog Entries:
California Age Discrimination Lawsuit Filed Against Facebook, Oct. 17, 2017, Orange County Age Discrimination Lawyer Blog