Lawyer calls Time Warner buyouts potentially discriminatory - CBS46 News

Lawyer calls Time Warner, Turner buyouts potentially discriminatory

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ATLANTA (CBS46) -

Hundreds of Turner employees will be required to make a decision about their future with the company by midnight Tuesday. This after some 600 staffers over the age of 55 with more than 10 years of service were offered buyouts three weeks ago.

"In my view, this is evidence of age bias," Atlanta employment lawyer Ed Buckley said.

"Is Turner walking a fine line with this?" CBS46's Adam Murphy asked.

"I'd say it's a very fine line," Buckley said.

Buckley believes the company's decision to target a specific group of employees with enhanced severance benefits could be trouble for the company.

"So if you target a group for any particular action, any particular adverse employment action then you are potentially walking up on discrimination," Buckley said. "If they said we're trying to thin the ranks of African-American employees or we're trying to thin the ranks of women in the workplace there would be a hue and cry."

Recipients of the buyout must decide by Tuesday whether they will accept the offer. If they do, they'll then be required to sign a release by Oct. 10, exactly 45 days after being offered the package.

"This package and the fact it was given out to people over 55 causes me to raise my eyebrows and say is there a bias against older workers? I think what this says is yeah, but no. Yeah, but it's voluntary," Buckley said.

The voluntary plan offers up to two years of severance pay which Buckley says will be attractive to many since the company has warned of future job cuts.

"Take it now or take your chances later on," Buckley said.

"And that's legally OK to do?" Murphy asked.

"There's not been a court challenge to this kind of thing yet that I know of that has been successful," Buckley said.

Buckley said there could be a court challenge if someone over 55 is let go and not offered a buyout package. It's something he said he will be watching closely.

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