An employment law headline caught my eye yesterday. DSW (the large women’s shoe retailer) agreed to settle an age discrimination case for $900,000. The interesting thing about the settlement is that it comes just one week after the EEOC class action lawsuit was filed. Now $900,000 is nothing to sneeze at, so one could reasonably assume DSW thought it faced some major liability. The case arose out of a reduction in force in which a lot of employees over 40 were let go. In addition to the monetary settlement, DSW agreed to train its workforce on the anti-discrimination laws, revise its anti-discrimination policy, and report all internal complaints of age-based discrimination for the next three years.
DSW issued a statement to the effect that it settled the case to avoid litigation costs. Maybe, but I’m skeptical. If there’s a takeaway here, it’s take extra care to make sure members of a protected group (e.g., older workers) are not disproportionately affected by layoffs and the like.