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Alliota v. Gruenberg

July 25, 2006

BARBARA ALLIOTA ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
MARTIN GRUENBERG, ACTING CHAIRMAN, FEDERAL DEPOSIT INSURANCE CORPORATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ricardo M. Urbina United States District Judge

Document No. 9

MEMORANDUM OPINION

GRANTING THE PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR CLASS CERTIFICATION

I. INTRODUCTION

The plaintiffs are 49 current and former employees of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation ("FDIC") who are all over 50 years young. The plaintiffs claim that the FDIC's campaign to trim its workforce through a buyout program and a Reduction-in-Force program ("RIF") violated the plaintiffs' rights under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq. The plaintiffs are now asking the court to certify their case as a class action. Because the plaintiffs satisfy Federal Rule 23's requirements, the court grants the plaintiffs' motion and certifies this case as a class action.

II. BACKGROUND

A. Factual Background

The FDIC is a government agency responsible for insuring money deposits at banks and savings associations across the United States. Def.'s Opp'n at 3. The plaintiffs were all employed in the FDIC's Division of Resolutions and Receiverships ("DRR"), Am. Compl. ¶ 5, which runs receiverships of failed banks and liquidates their assets, Def.'s Opp'n at 3. All plaintiffs were employed in either the Washington, D.C. or Dallas, TX offices. Pls.' Mot. at 18. In the 1980s and 1990s, the FDIC was busy handling the fallout from failed financial institutions during the famed savings and loan crisis. Id.; Am. Compl. ¶ 56. According to the defendant, as the banking crisis eased, so too did the FDIC's workload, and it began reducing the size of its workforce accordingly. Def.'s Opp'n at 3.

According to the plaintiffs, the Director of the DRR, Michael Glassman, issued a message to all DRR employees that he was recommending to FDIC management that DRR reduce its staffing levels by more than half during 2005. Am. Compl. ¶ 68; Def.'s Opp'n at 8. Pursuant to this plan, the defendant offered a buyout (calculated by the employee's grade and salary) to DRR employees not eligible for full retirement. Am. Compl. ¶ 74. Over 100 DRR employees accepted this buyout offer and signed documents indicating their intent to retire early.*fn1 Id. ¶ 75.

A second set of plaintiffs, they allege, were separated by the FDIC on September 3, 2005.*fn2 Am. Compl. ¶ 79. The plaintiffs claim that the FDIC separated approximately 50 other employees who did not accept the buyout offer. Id. According to the Amended Complaint, despite placing several of the plaintiffs on a re-employment priority list, the defendant filled vacant positions with younger and less senior employees no better qualified than older workers. Id. ¶ 80. The plaintiffs allege that plaintiff Gregory Haag, in addition to roughly 30 other employees, accepted a reduction in grade in a different division of the FDIC to avoid the RIF. Pls.' Mot. at 6; Pls.'s Reply at 12.

The plaintiffs allege that in total, approximately 171 DRR employees, at least 126 of whom were over the age of 50, were separated from the FDIC (either through the buyout or termination). Am. Compl. ¶ 90. The plaintiffs claim that the defendant's RIF program and the FDIC's implementation of that program violates the ADEA. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 99-101.

B. Procedural Background

On October 31, 2005, the plaintiffs' attorney sent a letter to the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") notifying it that "Barbara Aliotta and at least nineteen other former and current employees intend to file suit" against the FDIC pursuant to the ADEA. Def.'s Opp'n Ex. 10-1. Also on October 31, 2005, the plaintiffs' attorney sent a letter to the FDIC stating that "at least two of the claimants may act as class agents" in the action. Def.'s Supp. Memo. Ex. B. Between October 31, 2005 and February 21, 2006, counsel sent nine additional letters to the EEOC adding current and former FDIC employees as individuals intending to file suit. Def.'s Opp'n at Exs. 10-2 through 10-10.

On December 5, 2005, the plaintiffs filed suit in this case. The plaintiffs now move for class certification pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(3). Pls.' Mot. Specifically, the plaintiffs would like the court to certify the class as

Former or present employees of FDIC's Division of Resolution and Receiverships who were born on a date on or before September 30, 1955 who were terminated from their positions in the DRR, or who were offered and accepted a buyout to avoid termination, as a result of the 2005 RIF, or who accepted a reduction in grade to retain their employment.*fn3

Pls.' Reply at 9. The court now turns to the ...


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