Five former employees, ranging in age from 40 to 62 filed the lawsuit against Capital One Financial Corp.,. in US District Court in Richmond, arguing that a disproportionately high number of older employees were fired for purported poor performance, according to an Associated Press report. This was true even though the affected workers had met or exceeded expectations in previous job appraisals, the suit claimed.
Capital One settled a similar lawsuit with as many as 60 former workers for an undisclosed amount in June. AARP, the nonprofit organization for people 50 and older, was co-counsel in that lawsuit.
Meanwhile, four of the plaintiffs in the latest case were in middle management, and one was an hourly employee. Some received separation and other benefits, plus additional pay equivalent to eight weeks’ salary from Capital One if they agreed not to sue for age discrimination.
The employees allege that the waivers were illegal and part of a plan to deter legal challenges. The company implemented a rigorous forced-ranking employee-appraisal system that led to the firings. In a forced ranking, a certain percentage of employees must get low grades – which lead to termination.
Capital One has backed off the forced-ranking system since it was implemented in fall 2001, according to the lawsuit. The company employs about 18,800 workers – half of them in the Richmond area.