Hewlett-Packard Company faces a proposed class action wherein a 57-year-old Georgia resident alleges he was, throughout his employment and alongside a number of other older workers, “targeted and ultimately terminated” due solely to his age.
The plaintiff alleges in the 44-page complaint that he would still be gainfully employed by the defendants—Hewlett-Packard Company; HP Enterprise Services; Hewlett-Packard Enterprise Co.; HP, Inc.; and DXC Technology Services—“[b]ut for the fact that he was 40 years of age or older” when HP rolled out an unwritten, company-wide, cost-cutting policy around 2012 apparently aimed at systematically trimming older, and therefore more expensive, workers from its roster.
“As a result of HP’s discrimination against [the plaintiff] because of his age, [the plaintiff] has incurred significant amounts of lost wages and benefits, and he has suffered and continues to suffer mental and emotional distress and anguish from the fact and manner of his involuntary termination and ensuing unemployment resulting therefrom,” the case claims, alleging violations of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967.
According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff’s tenure at HP began in July 2017 when he was hired as an independent contractor. The man was promoted to a full-time position in February 2018 and, at the time of his firing, held the position of technical solutions consultant III at HP’s Alpharetta, Georgia facility, the suit says. As the case tells it, the plaintiff, throughout his employment, performed his work in a “satisfactory and competent manner” and received positive reviews, salary bumps and bonuses.
Shortly after the plaintiff became a full-time employee, however, HP “began to discriminate” against the man because of his age, the lawsuit alleges, claiming the plaintiff was denied career advancement opportunities and specialized training that instead went to “younger less experienced and qualified employees.” The plaintiff was also “repeatedly” denied promotions in favor of younger, less experienced workers, including one for a team lead role that went to an employee with at least 20 years less experience, the case claims.
More broadly, HP expanded its “discriminatory treatment” of older employees into a “companywide unwritten policy,” directing comments such as “when are you planning on retiring” and “you must be getting ready to retire” at older workers, the complaint says.
“The unwritten policy was so consistently applied that it was understood at HP that if there was another wave of workforce reductions HP would target the age protected employees first,” the lawsuit reads. “In fact, between the [sic] July 1, 2012 and February 21, 2017, there were 29 age discrimination complaints against HP just in California.”
It was in 2012, the suit says, that HP instituted its Workforce Reduction Program intended to involuntarily terminate employees “on a rolling basis.” The lawsuit alleges that although HP purports to use the program to lay off workers “on a neutral basis,” the company, in truth, “disproportionately targets employees who are 40 years of age or older” for termination.
Back to the plaintiff, the complaint says that the man was notified on May 14, 2020 that his employment was being terminated pursuant to HP’s years-old Workforce Reduction Plan, with his final day slated for May 22. Per the suit, the plaintiff was given a “notification of severance materials,” which stated the man would have two weeks to find another job within HP. If he were to be successful in finding another role with the company, the plaintiff would be allowed to continue working without interruption, the case says. If he were unable to find a landing spot, he would be terminated and a 60-day “preferential rehire period” would begin, the suit states:
“During the WFR’s 60-day ‘Preferential Rehire Period,’ [the plaintiff] would be allowed to apply for jobs within HP, and if he was selected then he would be rehired without having to undertake the approval process normally required for a rehire. During this period, [the plaintiff] applied for nine jobs for which he was imminently qualified. For instance, on May 13, 2020, [the plaintiff] applied for the position of Management Services Tier 2 in the division of Greenlake. HP refused to hire [the plaintiff].”
The suit says the plaintiff applied for roughly eight other jobs with HP yet was not hired for any due to his age.
Per the case, the plaintiff filed on or before August 31, 2020 a dual charge against HP with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which in turn issued a “right-to-sue” letter on September 17, granting him permission to sue the defendants under federal laws. The lawsuit marks the latest chapter in a legal saga in which HP has more than once faced class action allegations of age and/or gender discrimination.
The lawsuit looks to represent all current, former or prospective employees who worked for Hewlett-Packard in the United States between November 4, 2016 and the present for individuals terminated in deferral states; and on or after March 4, 2017 through the present for individuals in non-deferral states; and who were at least 40 years old when HP selected them for termination under its Workforce Reduction Plan.
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