June 23, 2018

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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Accounting News Roundup | 01.21.10

How to find the “best and brightest” [CPA Success]
This may be a better topic for the friendly HR professional but figuring out who these future accounting rock stars are before they show up on their first day is “more art than science”, as Tom Hood notes.
Popular to some old-school thought, GPA does not always indicate who’s going to dominate in the real world and “soft skills” — besides being a terrible term — are in more demand than ever.
Help The The American Red Cross of Greater Chicago Help Haiti [Re: The Auditors]
The American Red Cross of Greater Chicago is having a drive today and since Francine’s friend is the CFO, we’ll be glad pass around the news:

One of my oldest and dearest friends, Guillermo Becerra, is the CFO of the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago. I asked him how I could help him, and the Red Cross, during what must be an incredibly busy time post-Haiti earthquake.

“The Chicagoland community will come together on Thursday, January 21 to give to the American Red Cross as we help the people of Haiti recover from the catastrophic earthquake that devastated their country last week.
The Chicago Helps Haiti media relief drive begins at 5 a.m. and lasts until 11 p.m. Nearly every TV and radio station in our area will be promoting this fundraising effort throughout the day. You can help too, by giving via phone or online, and sharing your thoughts here, on Facebook or Twitter, and by asking others to give.
To give from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. CALL 1 (877) 565-5000 or visit www.chicagoredcross.org/haiti

Plus, we’re guessing that if you give, your 2009 tax return isn’t much of a concern.
If Your Password Is 123456, Just Make It HackMe [NYT]
The Times is concerned that you have a shitty password which puts you at a huge risk of being hacked by someone sitting in their parents’ basement.

Imperva found that nearly 1 percent of the 32 million people it studied had used “123456” as a password. The second-most-popular password was “12345.” Others in the top 20 included “qwerty,” “abc123” and “princess.”

You know who you are, ye with stupid passwords. Also, don’t even think of changing it to “654321” because that drops in at #19.

Accounting News Roundup: Haiti Relief Passes Senate; Accounting Job Surge? CPAs Basically Control People’s Lives | 01.22.10

Senate votes for faster tax breaks for Haiti gifts [WaPo]
As expected, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed legislation yesterday that allows taxpayers to deduct donations made for Haiti relief efforts. You have until the end of February to donate so that it may be included on your 2009 return.

Maybe it’s bad legislation but we’ve been over that.

CPA Jobs Set for Surge. But When? [CPA Trendlines]
That’s the question, isn’t it? Rick Telberg, who has done a great job of tracking the Bureau of Labor Statistics on accountants, points out that while the latest BLS forecasts a 22% increase (279,400 jobs) by 2018, there’s no indication that it’s happening now:

[M]any tax, accounting and finance professionals are still slogging through the Great Recession. The Association for Financial Professionals, for instance, reported that about one in four respondents say their organizations will contract in 2010. At the same time, a PricewaterhouseCoopers survey of private companies found 43 percent of CEOs and CFOs still budgeting no expansion over the next 12 months to 18 months. The data just seem to reinforce economic uncertainties and a weak outlook.

The BLS is looking past the past the recession for the jump in opportunities but just when the hell will that be? Just because the economy isn’t contracting currently, doesn’t mean it won’t in the future and this “recovery” has been tepid at best.

Theismann to CPAs: You Are the Conscience of America [Web CPA]
Joe Theismann gets it. He knows that without all of you out there in CPA land, your clients don’t stand a chance. They’d be finished. Finished!

“You’re the conscience of America,” Theismann told conference-goers. “You are the survivors in tough times. With accountants, I’m not looking for someone to file taxes and do my financials. I can do that myself online. In your position you can basically control people’s lives.”

So get out there and control somebody’s life. Joe Theismann is expecting it.