The EEOC has declined to comment on its decision to uphold an administrative ruling that dismissed an age discrimination case where a hiring officer said he ignored objective qualifications and hired workers based on cultural fit.
The ruling by Carlton M. Hadden, director of the EEOC Office of Federal Operations, involved an allegation of age discrimination by a 60-year-old woman who was not selected for one of five vacancies for the position of attorney decision-writer at a new Social Security Administration office in Reno, NV in 2011.
The novice hiring officer testified that he completely ignored objective qualifications when he selected five applicants under the age of 40. After three or four applicants declined the job, the hiring officer selected a 42-year-old male applicant. The hiring officer initially said he rejected the 60-year-old female applicant because she lacked enthusiasm during a 20-minute telephone interview. He agreed she was more objectively qualified than most or all of the other applicants but said she did not fit within his perception of SSA “culture.”
The EEOC did something this week that it hardly ever does – it sued an employer for age discrimination in hiring.
The EEOC alleges that the City of Milpitas in California’s Silicon Valley violated federal law by choosing a younger candidate over older applicants with greater qualifications for the position of executive secretary to the city manager.
According to the EEOC, the City of Milpitas failed to hire four qualified applicants who scored higher than the person selected in a three-person panel review of the candidates. The individuals who were not selected were 55, 42, 56 and 58 years old. Instead, EEOC alleges the city hired a younger applicant (age 39) who was less qualified than these people, without a valid justification for disregarding the panel rankings.
Age discrimination in hiring is undoubtedly the most common kind of age discrimination and it is particularly blatant in Silicon Valley, which has been a virtual apartheid state for young workers for years. It is interesting that the EEOC chose to sue a government employer in Silicon Valley because private tech companies in Silicon Valley have been the focus of scrutiny in recent months for discriminatory hiring practices
A 60-year-old software engineer who was not hired by Google in 2011 filed a class action age discrimination lawsuit against Google earlier this year. The lawsuit alleges the company’s workforce is “grossly disproportionate” with respect to age. The lawsuit asserts the median age of the 28,000 employees who worked for Google in 2013 was 29. The U.S. Department of Labor reports the median age for computer programmers in the United States is 42.8 and the median age for software developers is 40.6.