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Accounting News Roundup: PwC Sued for Age Discrimination and Grant Thornton Issues a Press Release | 04.28.16


PwC and the rest of the Big 4 hire a lot of campus recruits to fill their entry-level positions. These recruits, for the most part, are young people, probably in their early 20s. When they join the firm, most of their fellow new-hires are similar in age and this results in a 1-2 year extension of their college years where drinking heavily and questionable romantic interludes are common. I'd assume that this atmosphere would repel most non-traditional students and older recruits who would rather begin their accounting careers in a more sober (both literally and figuratively) environment.

However! Who's to say that some of these entry-level or lower-level jobs wouldn't be just what some older workers want: an employer with international exposure, plenty of cachet and regular mentions in an objectionable, yet pleasingly irreverent website. Who wouldn't want that?!

So maybe there's something to this lawsuit filed by 53-year-old accountant Steve Rabin? He says "PwC hiring policies effectively bar applicants over 40 from landing entry-level positions at the company."

Rabin interviewed with PwC in San Jose, Calif., in 2013 but was turned down, and says the company hired a younger accountant instead. He is seeking to overturn PwC's hiring policies, and demanding compensation, penalties and fees for himself and other similarly situated individuals.

The proposed class is nationwide and includes individuals over the age of 40 who applied for and were denied a job at PwC, as well as people in that age bracket who were deterred from applying at all, dating back to October 2013.

PwC is not impressed. A spokeswoman called the suit "false" and said the firm "devotes enormous resources to recruiting a diverse workforce." And okay sure, but does the firm, who does like to play up its youthful culture actually discriminate against older workers seeking lower-level positions? The plaintiff thinks so, citing the claim that 80% of PwC's workforce are Millennials. And, hilariously, one lawyer for Rabin goes there:

"For PwC to advertise the youthfulness of its workforce is concerning. How would we feel about a company advertising how male-dominated or white its workforce was?" Outten & Golden partner Jahan Sagafi said in an email.

That's funny, because Going Concern does a pretty good job of advertising how male-dominated and white the accounting workforce is. A little credit would be nice. Along with Outten & Golden, the AARP Foundation Litigation and The Liu Law Firm are representing the proposed class.

Plus, there's this:

When Rabin was interviewed, the complaint says, he was asked by a manager in his mid-30s: "The people in the cubicles are much younger than you. How would you fit in? Would you be able to work for a younger manager or director?"

Rabin assured the interviewer that he had worked for a younger manager in the past and enjoyed the experience, the complaint says. He was not given a reason for why he was turned down.

You know they're serious because there's an entire website devoted to the lawsuit. You can download the complaint here.

Grant Thornton

Accounting firms issue a lot of press releases. Don't ask me why, they're mostly nonsense and trust me, I read them. They're nonsense. Example: Grant Thornton issued a press release yesterday morning to announce its support for H.R. 5076: The Main Street Fairness Act. 

Grant Thornton welcomes the legislation introduced today by Congressman Vern Buchanan (FL-16): The Main Street Fairness Act. This legislation, when enacted, will make a significant difference for pass-through organizations around the country. More than 80 percent of businesses in the United States are pass-through entities represented by limited liability corporations (LLCs), limited liability partnerships (LLPs), S-corporations and sole proprietorships. Pass-through business owners are taxed on individual returns at individual rates.

Under current law, pass-through business owners pay a top tax rate of 39.6 percent whereas corporations pay tax at 35 percent, a difference of 4.6 percent. This rate disparity puts pass-throughs at a competitive disadvantage and hinders growth. The Main Street Fairness Act as introduced would close this differential, so that all businesses regardless of entity are subject to the same rates.

Similar to businesses whose names suggest superiority, I'm suspicious of legislation that bears an ambiguously virtuous title. I'm especially suspicious of legislation that bears an ambiguously virtuous title when it's supported by Americans for Tax Reform. I'm certain that a fair number of people at Grant Thornton know that most giant hedge funds and private equity funds are pass-through entities. So I'm not sure reducing the tax rate for them is what most people consider to be "Main Street Fairness." But I'm sure there are people at Grant Thornton who know that as well. Anyway, GovTrak says the bill has about a 3% chance of passing.

Accounting and auditing skills

What kind of skills do you need to be successful in accounting and auditing? According to this article: 1) Risk and compliance expertise; 2) IT savvy; 3) Interpersonal skills. And, uh, sure? Although I might make a serious case for computer science if you want any kind of longevity in your career. Plus, all kinds of other things, too. This quite a contrast from a few banking careers that mostly require a pretty face.

Previously, on Going Concern…

I wrote about Millennials. I also wrote about playing dumb. And in Open Items, someone wants to know what SoCal tax pros know.

In other news:

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