SAN JOSE (CN) – Google discriminates against older tech workers by disproportionally hiring the under-40 set, a 64-year-old job-seeker claims in a federal class action.
Robert Heath says he applied for a software engineer job at Google in 2011. He was 60 years old, and had worked for IBM, Compaq and General Dynamics dating back to 1978. He has master certifications in both Java and C++, a rarity for an IT professional, he says in the April 22 complaint.
He claims he had a cursory phone interview in February 2011, in which the interviewer never asked about his background or qualifications.
Heath says the interviewer did not seem fluent in English, used a poorly functioning speaker phone, and refused to cooperate with him in his attempts to communicate through Google Docs.
After the interview, Heath said, he told a Google human relations representative what had happened, and was told the interviewer had “acted inappropriately.”
Heath says he received an email two days later from a Google recruiter, who said, “we’re not going to be continuing on to the next step in the process,” based on the interviewer’s feedback.
“Google intentionally did not allow Mr. Heath to communicate or demonstrate his full technical abilities, and did not have a sincere interest in hiring Mr. Heath,” the complaint states.
He claims: “Google has engaged in a systematic pattern and practice of discriminating against individuals (including Mr. Heath) who are age 40 and older in hiring, compensation, and other employment decisions with the resultant effect that persons age 40 or older are systemically excluded from positions for which they are well-qualified. The end result of Google’s pattern and practice of age discrimination is a workforce with a median age of 29.”
Heath’s attorney Daniel Low with Kotchen and Low said in a statement: “The disproportionately low number of older workers and the history of discriminatory remarks at Google provide significant evidence of age discrimination, and we’re hopeful that this lawsuit will help end discriminatory practices at Google and deter discrimination in the industry.”
The complaint cites U.S. Department of Labor data that the median age of U.S. software developers is around 40, and the median age for computer programmers in the United States is about 43.
The complaint cites Reid v. Google, in which the California Supreme Court found that former Google executive Brian Reid had presented evidence of the company’s animus toward older workers, including comments made by other executives that his ideas were “obsolete,” and “too old to matter,” and that “other colleagues at Google had referred to Reid as an ‘old man,’ an ‘old guy,’ and an ‘old fuddy-duddy.'”
Reid, then 52, was fired from Google in 2004 after being told he was not a “cultural fit,” a term allegedly used internally to describe older employees.
In an email response to the Heath case, a Google spokesperson said: “We believe that the facts will show that this case is without merit and we intend to defend ourselves vigorously.”
Heath seeks class certification, an injunction and punitive damages for age discrimination.
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