Two new developments in the continuing legal saga of Google, Inc. a company that apparently thought it was too big to be held accountable.
U.S. District Judge Beth Labson Freeman ruled last month that plaintiffs who filed an age discrimination collective action against Google can amend their complaint and add a new claim of disparate impact. This claim alleges Google has adopted seemingly neutral policy that disproportionately affects older workers. It could significantly broaden the potential for damages.
This blog complained that Google in 2014 made a public commitment to increase race and gender diversity in its workforce, and released workforce statistics relating to those characteristics. But Google was completely silent with respect to age and did not release age-related statistics. Apparently, it did not feel that age was an important diversity issue?
The case is Robert Heath v. Google Inc., 5:15-ev-01824 (4/22/2015). It was filed in U.S. District Court of Northern California in San Jose, California.
Judge Mary Wiss of the California Superior Court in San Francisco issued a ruling that paves the way for class action status in a lawsuit filed by three women in September alleging Google has a “sexist culture” and pays women less. She named the a “complex case,” if the case is certified as a class action, it could include thousands of female employees across the state of California. The lawsuit follows an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) that found evidence of systemic pay discrimination in 2015 among the 21,000 employees at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California. Women earned less than men in nearly every job classification.
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.”
Older women have the highest wage gap when compared to both men and women as a group.
The number of age discrimination complaints filed by older women with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has skyrocketed in recent years, raising questions about whether older women are being excluded from participation in the “new” economy.
One of the biggest problems facing older women is hiring discrimination, which involves both sex and age discrimination. This is particularly obvious in the high-tech sector. Google, for example, admitted in 2014 that women comprised only 30 percent of its workplace but the company was strangely silent about the age of its employees. A class action lawsuit earlier this year accused Google of gross age discrimination in hiring.
It seems obvious that older women are more adversely affected by the discriminatory hiring practices of America’s high tech industries.
Meanwhile,there has been a tremendous spike in age discrimination lawsuits filed by women in recent years. Cathy Vontrell-Monsees, senior counsel for the EEOC, told the National Press Foundation earlier this year that the percentage of age discrimination cases filed by women jumped from 32 percent in 2007 to 45 percent in 2013.
It should be noted that in the early years of the ADEA, which was passed in 1967, most workers who filed age discrimination lawsuits were white, male, middle managers or professionals over the age of 50. Only about 14 percent of claimants were women. Researchers theorized that female workers were less likely to file an ADEA lawsuit because they had lower wages and didn’t stand to gain as much. The increase in age discrimination complaints filed by women may also say something about how older men are faring in the workplace. Continue reading “Older Women Struggle in the Workplace”
Silicon Valley has been an unapologetic apartheid state for young workers for years but this could be about to change.
A class action age discrimination lawsuit was filed against Google, Inc. on April 22 by software engineer Robert Heath who was interviewed but not hired for a position at Google in 2011 when he was 60-years-of-age. The lawsuit alleges Google has demonstrated a pattern and practice of violating the Age Discrimination in Employment and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act.
According to the lawsuit, Google’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. Meanwhile, 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. According to the lawsuit, Google had 53,000 employees in 2014 and revenues of approximately $66 billion.
Google’s position with respect to age discrimination is completely inexplicable. The company last year made a public commitment to increase race and gender diversity in its workforce, and released workforce statistics relating to those characteristics. But Google was completely silent with respect to age and did not release age-related statistics. It was as if Google’s position was that age is not a factor in workforce diversity.