Ikea Accused of Systemic Bias Against Older Workers

By Patrick Dorrian

The “Ikea way” is to favor younger workers over older ones when it comes to mentoring and promotions, a Pennsylvania-based employee of the furniture retailer alleges in a federal lawsuit.

The company for at least two years has systematically denied advancement opportunities to hourly retail workers age 40 and over because of their age, Frank Donofrio says in a complaint filed in federal court in Philadelphia Feb. 12. Donofrio is 54 years old and has “been an outstanding hourly retail ‘coworker’” with Ikea since 2011, the complaint says. However, he hasn’t been promoted to the management level despite repeatedly expressing his interest in moving up the ranks, according to the complaint.

Donofrio brings the lawsuit under federal age discrimination law on behalf of himself and a proposed class of all similarly situated older Ikea employees. The lawsuit is the latest challenging a major U.S. company’s alleged efforts to recruit recent college graduates as a way to avoid hiring or promoting older workers. Ikea recruits younger workers expressly for management roles as “future leaders,” Donofrio says.

Ikea didn’t immediately respond Feb. 13 to Bloomberg Law’s request for comment.

The case is Donofrio v. IKEA US Retail, LLC, E.D. Pa., No. 2:18-cv-00599, class complaint filed 2/12/18.