Wittenburg V. American Express
Bonnie Wittenburg, the plaintiff in this case filed an age discrimination lawsuit against American Express Financial Advisors, Inc.’s (AEFA). AEFA filed a motion for summary judgment, the district court granted and the United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit affirmed. Wittenburg started working at AEFA Equity Investment Department (EID) in November 1998 at the age of 46 (Walsh, 2011). According to the portfolio managers, Wittenburg provided outstanding service and displayed excellent investment skills and in 2000, she was name Analyst of the Year (Walsh, 2011). In 2001, AEFA hired a new Chief Investment Officer (CIO) and 2002 the CIO initiated a redesign of EID. The project would take approximately two years; add an additional three portfolio managers, a new satellite office and the merger or movement of certain funds to AEFA’s satellite office (Walsh, 2011). During a discussion regarding new hires, the CIO stated he was not averse to hiring younger managers or analysts to grow with the company (Walsh, 2011). The new design plan would include a reduction in force (RIF) which according to the CIO was necessary. The first RIF terminated Al Henderson, age 62. Henderson made a comment that Dan Rivera told him that AEFA fired him because the company wanted to retain the younger employees (Walsh, 2011). The second RIF eliminated three analyst positions but primarily focused on portfolio managers. During the second RIF, a team of managers reviewed about 25 people in the department giving each a rating of keep, maybe keep, maybe, maybe drop or drop (Walsh, 2011). They used the ratings to educate leaders about the individuals in the department and in late 2002 held a meeting to discuss employee ratings. Wittenburg received a low rating because of poor performance and negative input provided by portfolio managers but continued in her current position during the second RIF. Wittenburg along with two other analysts were...
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