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A second age discrimination lawsuit has been filed against Capital One Financial Corp. in Richmond, Va., alleging that the credit card and consumer finance company favored young employees in its effort to reduce staff. Five former employees, ranging in age from 40 to 62, filed the suit in U.S. District Court. They contend that a disproportionately high number of older employees were fired for purported poor performance, although they had met or exceeded expectations in previous job appraisals. The plaintiffs are seeking $90 million in damages. A similar lawsuit, asking for more than $50 million, was settled with as many as 60 former workers for an undisclosed amount in June. AARP, the nonprofit organization for people 50 and older, was co-counsel in that lawsuit. Capital One said that it does not comment on pending litigation and that it has a strict policy against any type of discrimination. Four of the plaintiffs were in middle management, and one was an hourly employee. Some received separation and other benefits, plus additional pay equivalent to eight weeks’ salary from Capital One if they agreed not to sue for age discrimination. The employees allege that the waivers were illegal and part of a plan to deter legal challenges. The company implemented a rigorous forced-ranking employee-appraisal system that led to the firings. In a forced ranking, a certain percentage of employees must get low grades — which lead to termination. Capital One has backed off the forced-ranking system since it was implemented in fall 2001, according to the lawsuit. The McLean-based company employs about 18,800 workers, half of them in the Richmond area. Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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