A federal appeals court last week ruled that a former Abbott employee may take his age discrimination case to trial, citing an executive’s statement that she was told to “manage out” older workers.
Ronald Pineda sued Abbott in April 2018, claiming the company failed to accommodate his disabilities, discriminated against him on the basis of age and disability, and engaged in retaliation. A lower court judge dismissed the case, but a three-judge U.S. Court of Appeals panel revived the age discrimination claim.
Pineda claims that at least one of the goals set forth in his performance improvement plan was intended to set him up to fail. Although that goal was changed, an Abbott executive stated in a declaration that she was instructed to “manage out” more senior, higher salaried employees who were usually older — by inventing performance problems and assigning unattainable goals.
That executive later retracted part of that declaration and made statements qualifying other parts of it, according to the appeals court ruling. But the lower court gave “great weight to subjective, cumulative performance reviews and fail(ed) to account for conflicting ‘me too’ evidence” and “evidence of biased policies,” the appeals panel ruled. That was enough to rate bringing Pineda’s age discrimination claim to trial, the judges added.