A potential class action lawsuit that claims Google discriminated against people over 40 is one step closer to becoming a reality.
A motion for conditional certification of collective action status was filed in a San Jose federal court Wednesday, which could open up a suit to anyone over 40 who feels they had been discriminated against by the tech company and not hired because of his or her age, reports Fox News.
The suit would include ‘all individuals who interviewed in-person for any software engineer, site reliability engineer, or systems engineer position with Google in the United States in the time period from August 13, 2010 through the present; were age 40 or older at the time of interview; and were refused employment by Google.’
This suit was begun last year by Robert Heath, who alleged that the tech giant ‘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.’
Heath applied for a job in 2011, when he was 60, and was denied employment even though he said he was perfectly qualified for the software engineering position and was deemed ‘a great candidate’ by a recruiter.
Programmer Cheryl Fillekes is also part of that suit. She says she was interviewed on four occasions by Google for different positions, and wasn’t hired by any of them – she blames that on the fact that she was in her 50s.
‘We think that there are a whole host of folks who are qualified and did not receive a position at Google because of their age,’ Daniel Kotchen, a partner at Kotchen & Low, who is representing Fillekes, told Fox News.
Fillekes’ motion contained other turned-down over-40 candidates, identified only by their initials.
Heath’s lawsuit said that in 2013, the median age for a Google employee was 29, compared to the median age for a computer programmer in the US, which was 43 in 2015, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Dan Lyons, the bestselling author of Disrupted, a memoir about his time at software-maker Hubspot while he was in his early 50s, and who also wrote for HBO’s Silicon Valley, says that age discrimination runs rampant in the tech industry.
‘I think this is long overdue and potentially huge,’ he told Daily Mail of the potential lawsuit against Google, though he suspects the company will settle. ‘I ran into this exact issue while working at HubSpot. The average employee was 26 years old and the company was openly biased about preferring to hire Millennials. The CEO actually told the New York Times that he was trying to build a culture that could attract and retain millennials. When it comes to age bias, the tech industry doesn’t even bother to lie. They are completely open about their bias. Everyone in Silicon Valley knows this and everyone just accepts it.’
Lyons says tech companies prefer younger workers because they come cheaper and usually have no families or other obligations, so they can build their entire lives around work. Younger workers also have lower health care costs, costing the company less.
‘They are basically getting conned and they don’t know it,’ he says of younger workers.
It’s unclear when a judge will make a decision on the motion.
In 2012, Google settled a case out of court brought by former director of operations and engineering, Brian Reid, who was hired by Google in 2002 and fired two years later at age 54.
Court documents showed that Reid was continually subjected to comments about his age, including being called ‘old fuddy duddy’ and that he was fired because he wasn’t a ‘cultural fit,’ according to The Wall Street Journal. His job was taken over by two employees, who were 15 and 20 years younger than he was.