Age Discrimination in the Banking Industry

I am surprised by the amount of calls I get from older workers who work for banks who are clearly driven out of their workplace during age. Most of these calls come from Wells Fargo Bank branches. Many of them hold high level positions and have been working for the same bank for fifteen, twenty or more years. Usually the process starts with the older worker being written up by his or her manager for petty violations or fabricated violations or being issued unsatisfactory performance reviews. Because there are no laws that regulate these performance reviews, and the employer has almost full discretion in expressing their opinion about an employee’s performance, the management can basically include what they please in employee’s evaluation.

A negative performance review or several such reviews are followed up with a 30 or 90-day performance improvement plan (PIP), and then “termination for unsatisfactory performance”.
Shortly after the older employee is terminated, he is replaced by a significantly younger employee.

Age discrimination lawsuits can lead to a significant settlement or court verdict, but they are inherently difficult to prove as direct evidence of discrimination (i.e. where the employer says that he fires you because of your age) is rarely available, so the claimants and their lawyers have to conduct thorough documentary discovery and investigation to find and present indirect (circumstantial) evidence of age discrimination, such as the bank’s pattern of replacing older employees with the younger ones, inconsistency in evaluating the claimant’s performance, any statements by the management that suggest that the employee’s age played a role in his termination, such as being told that an employee is “too old school” for the company, etc.

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