Tuesday, 23 March 2010

California Woman Loses Age Discrimination Lawsuit Against Wells Fargo

There is a fine, but clear line separating workplace discrimination from lawful termination of services. One elderly woman from California is learning this the hard way.

62-year-old Deanna Tyler was terminated from her position as senior credit manager at Wells Fargo Financial California Inc. The reason for termination was allegedly Tyler’s poor performance. Tyler filed an age discrimination lawsuit against Wells Fargo, under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. A Court of Appeals in California has now decided in favor of Wells Fargo, holding that Tyler failed to prove that her termination was due to age, and not for her poor job performance.

Tyler had been hired in 1996 when she was 53 years old. In her lawsuit, she claims that a district manager at Wells Fargo instructed office managers not to focus too heavily on the older employees who were likely to be “set in their ways,” likely referring to Tyler and another older employee at the firm. According to Tyler, the manager, Brian Payne, also told an office manager to hire young employees who tended to be “go-getters”. According to Tyler, Payne once told his office manager that he wanted to get rid of Tyler because she didn't fit into the company's “image.” He frequently used phrases like “out with the old and in with the new” and made obvious his appreciation for the characters of the movie “Boiler Room” - young, enthusiastic hyper-ambitious corporate types, with emphasis on ”young.”

All of these sound to a California employment lawyer like the characteristics of a person who has a bias against older employees in the workforce. However, Tyler's own performance sheet failed to impress the court. She had been falling short of targets, and had failed even after she had been given opportunities to better her performance. The district manager had given her notice that her performance was falling, and if she did not make more of an effort, she would be terminated. Her case very likely could have had a different outcome if she had been consistently good in her performance at the company.

3 comments:

  1. I worked at Wells Fargo (credit card customer service) for nearly 7 years. There was blatant age discrimination that I witnessed. I notified several supervisors so they were aware of my concerns. At the call center I worked at there were approximately 160-180 employees. We were divided into about 14-15 "teams" with one supervisor and one "team lead" each. Of the 14-15 supervisors only 4-5 were older than 40-45. Of the team leads there were fewer than 3-4 older than 35. It was very discouraging. I have not filed a complaint through our state Bureau of Labor and Industries. I left my employment there about 18 months ago, but I have vowed to share my concerns with the public. Wells Fargo should change there policy towards their treatment of there older "team members".

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  2. Based on technicality the court will favor wells fargo indeed, however, elderly people should be more careful in taking their cases to court, because proof is what makes the law works.

    I'm sorry to hear about Ms. Deanna Tyler's situation.

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  3. Oh yea Wells Fargo clearly discriminates against older people, blocking opportunities for advancement and department transfers, they also can most definitely set you up to look as though you're not performing. They will provide older people with higher pipelines, hold you accountable for inconsistencies within their procedures while advancing younger people and providing pilot programs for them. The only time you will be treated fairly is during Q12 season when they score their managers and once the results are in, it's back to business as usual.

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