Court Overrules Verdict in PGW Discrimination Case

The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit overruled the decision of the District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania which previously ruled in favor of Pittsburgh Glass Works (PGW) in the class action filed against them by terminated employee Rudolph Karlo. The employee, one of 100, laid off by the company in 2009, believes he was targeted because of his age (he was 51), according to court documents. PGW claims the testimonies against them were unreliable and asked that the District Court ruling be upheld, and for the Circuit Court to overrule the verdict of the jury which awarded Karlo $922,060.

Case Background

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.

The jury found that PGW “willfully” violated the law in the case of Karlo, which meant doubling damages.

New Ruling

The previous court found that the case did not fall under The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). This new ruling from the U.S Court of Appeals, handed down in January 2017, differs from that original one.

The Appeals Court set out to answer the question surrounding the case, do the subgroups involved fall under ADEA. The Circuit Court has ruled that they do in fact fall under the ADEA, citing the Supreme Court O’Connor V. Consolidated Coin Caterers, where the Supreme Court ruled that the ADEA refers to discrimination of all ages, not just those forty and over.

“We will therefore reverse the judgment of the District Court based on its interpretation of the ADEA,” reads the court documents. “We will affirm the District Court in all other respects.”

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