On Friday in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, a former AT&T employee sued AT&T Mobility Services, LLC for age discrimination, specifically for alleged violations of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) as amended by the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act.
According to the complaint, “AT&T, at the highest levels of the company, has expressed its displeasure at having an aging workforce, its intention to transform the company for the future, and its desire and expectation that older workers will leave its workforce.” As a result, the plaintiff asserted that “under the guise of eliminating positions outside of so-called ‘hub’ locations, AT&T undertook a course of action designed to terminate the employment of older workers through centrally planned workforce reductions beginning in or about January 2019.” Accordingly, through one of these reductions, the plaintiff was purportedly “placed on ‘surplus’ status, presented with a fraudulent general release agreement, and then terminated after sixteen years of service, all while being falsely told by AT&T that she could not sue the company under the ADEA, when in fact she could.” However, the plaintiff proffered that “AT&T’s ‘location-based’ workforce reductions were part of its long-term scheme and pattern or practice to replace older employees with younger ones.” Consequently, the plaintiff claimed that this was a discriminatory practice designed to remove older employees. Moreover, the plaintiff averred that it also “intentionally deceive[d] them into to falsely believing that, in exchange for a severance benefit, they had released their right to sue the company for age discrimination.” Additionally, AT&T purportedly “knowingly presented to the older workers terminated as part of these workforce reductions a ‘General Release and Waiver’ that was materially identical to AT&T’s General Release and Waiver” that the Eastern District of Pennsylvania already determined violated ADEA.
The plaintiff noted that the ADEA “requires an employer seeking to obtain a release of age discrimination claims from a worker terminated as part of a group layoff to provide certain data and information regarding the group layoff to allow the terminated worker to make an informed choice whether or not so sign a waiver agreement.” Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that AT&T’s General Release Waiver violated the ADEA because “it was not knowing and voluntary as a matter of law, and that contrary to what the release stated, it was not a release of their right to sue the company for age discrimination under the ADEA.” Moreover, the plaintiff claimed that after working for AT&T for 16 years, she was notified that she was designated as “surplus” in January 2019 and terminated in March 2019 at the age of 48. The plaintiff asserted that unlike AT&T’s representations, her “physical location had no bearing on the performance of her job duties” because “[t]he work for which Plaintiff was responsible did not need to be performed in a hub location, and there was very little collaboration required for her position.” Consequently, she alleged that “AT&T selected her for surplus and terminated her employment because of her age, and then obtained from her a General Release and Waiver in violation of the ADEA.” As a result, the plaintiff averred that AT&T engaged in age discrimination and violated the ADEA.
The plaintiff has sought declaratory judgment in her favor, to enjoin and restrain the defendant from violations and to use the general release as a defense, an award for damages, an award for costs and fees, and other relief.
The plaintiff is represented by Console Mattiacci Law, LLC.