On December 5, 2005, several former and current employees of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation's Division of Resolutions and Receiverships filed a lawsuit under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 621 et seq., against the agency in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, asked the Court for declaratory and injunctive relief, monetary damages, and compensation for litigation costs, alleging that the agency had illegally discriminated against them on the basis of age. Specifically, the plaintiffs alleged that, through the defendant's design and implementation of its Reduction in Force (RIF) in 2005, their employment was either terminated or else reduced in grade because of their age.
The FDIC is a U.S. government agency responsible for insuring money deposits at banks and savings associations. In the 1980s and 1990s, the FDIC was handling the fallout from failed financial institutions during the savings and loan crisis. As the banking crisis eased, so too did the FDIC's workload, and this spurred the 2005 RIF. Aliotta v. Gruenberg, 237 F.R.D. 7-8 (D.D.C. 2006). The defendant offered a buyout to division employees not eligible for full retirement. Aliotta v. Gruenberg, 237 F.R.D. 8 (D.D.C. 2006). The plaintiffs who did not accept the buyout were placed on a re-employment priority list, but the defendant allegedly filled the spots with younger and less senior employees who had no better qualifications. The remaining plaintiffs took a demotion in a different division to avoid being laid off. Aliotta v. Gruenberg, 237 F.R.D. 8 (D.D.C. 2006).
On October 31, 2005, the plaintiffs' attorney sent a letter to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) notifying it that a group of plaintiffs intended to file suit against the FDIC pursuant to the ADEA. Aliotta v. Gruenberg, 237 F.R.D. 8 (D.D.C. 2006). While the defendant argued that the plaintiffs did not notify the EEOC that this would be a class action, the Court (Judge Ricardo M. Urbina) stated that an explicit mention was not necessary. Aliotta v. Gruenberg, 237 F.R.D. 9 (D.D.C. 2006). Thus, on July 25, 2006, the Court granted plaintiffs' motion for class certification. The class consisted of former or current employees of the FDIC's DRR who were born on or before September 30, 1955 and who, as a result of the 2005 RIF, either accepted a buyout or reduction in grade or else were terminated from their positions in the DRR. Aliotta v. Gruenberg, 237 F.R.D. 13 (D.D.C. 2006).
The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment, and on September 18, 2008, the Court issued an opinion granting the defendant's motion for summary judgment. Aliotta v. Bair, 576 F.Supp.2d 113 (D.D.C. 2008). The court held that plaintiffs failed to demonstrate (1) that the buyouts or transfers were involuntary and (2) that the 2005 RIF, when considered independently, had a discriminatory effect on older employees. Aliotta v. Bair, 576 F.Supp.2d 113 (D.D.C. 2008).
The plaintiffs appealed the district court's decision, but on August 13, 2010, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia affirmed the district court's decision. Aliotta v. Bair, 2010 WL 3190828 (D.C. Cir. 2010). The case is now closed.Jordan Rossen - 09/11/2010