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Ikea hit with new class action lawsuit alleging age discrimination

It’s the fifth age-discrimination lawsuit Ikea is facing in the United States in just over a year.

Ikea hit with new class action lawsuit alleging age discrimination
[Photo: Flickr user Atomic Taco]

Ikea has been hit with its fifth lawsuit in just over a year in U.S. courts, alleging age discrimination.

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The first was in Philadelphia in 2018, when 54-year-old employee Frank Donofrio complained that he was unable to be promoted to management despite excellent performance. The second and third were filed in August 2018; one of the plaintiffs in those cases, a woman with the last name Gorbeck, alleged both age discrimination and gender discrimination regarding pay equity. A fourth case was filed against Ikea in December 2018. And now, Brandon Paine, a 48-year-old employee at an Ikea store in New Haven, Conn., has filed a class action lawsuit against Ikea in his district court. According to Paine’s LinkedIn profile, he has been an Active Selling Leader at the company since 2004. Paine alleges that Ikea demoted him, as part of a larger (and controversial) restructuring effort at the company in the United States, and systematically turned him down for promotions based on his age.

The lawsuits have all been filed in a period of just over a year. And they argue that Ikea has fostered a workplace culture of discrimination, which systematically recruits and promotes young talent rather than workers over 40. Ikea’s aggressive U.S. restructuring, called O4G, got underway in October 2017.

Ikea is far from the only company that’s been sued for age discrimination, as Bloomberg Law points out. Other companies include HP, Google, and Marriott International.

An Ikea spokesperson declined to comment on the specifics of Paine’s lawsuit, but sent Fast Company the following statement:

At IKEA Group, we have an unwavering commitment to inclusion.  Equality is a human right, and it is embedded in our core values. We believe everyone has the right to be treated fairly and be given equal opportunities– regardless of age, gender identity, sexual orientation, physical ability, ethnicity, race, nationality, religion, or any other dimension of their identity. A diverse and inclusive work environment improves our business, strengthens our competitiveness and contributes to IKEA being a unique, meaningful and trusted brand, company and employer. IKEA Group takes accusations of any form of discrimination very seriously, and we were disappointed to learn of the lawsuit filed by Mr. Paine. As this is pending litigation regarding a co-worker, it would be inappropriate for us to comment further. We will remain committed to creating an inclusive work environment that is free of discrimination.

2/22/19 12:30 p.m.: This article was updated to include Ikea’s statement, details from Paine’s lawsuit, and  information about additional lawsuits against Ikea. 

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Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company. He started Philanthroper.com, a simple way to give back every day

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