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Google Businesses The Courts

269 People Joined An Age Discrimination Class Action Suit Against Google (bizjournals.com) 178

Slashdot reader #9,119 BrookHarty writes: "269 people have joined a class-action lawsuit against Google claiming they were discriminated against in the workplace based on their age..." reports BizJournals. "The lawsuit originated in 2015 with plaintiff Robert Heath and was certified as a class-action in 2016." Google has stated it has implemented policies to stop age discrimination but still has an average employee age of 29.

In 2004 Larry Page fired Brian Reid nine days before IPO costing Reid 45 million in unvested stock options. Reid was fired for lack of "cultural fit". Reid has settled for an undisclosed amount.

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269 People Joined An Age Discrimination Class Action Suit Against Google

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  • by ark1 ( 873448 ) on Sunday August 13, 2017 @09:18AM (#55002691)
    Is that really the average age of all employees or an "Engineer" positions age? In other words does it include all ranks of employees or a specific one based on the title which seems to be more junior/mid-career.
    • Re:29 avg age... (Score:5, Informative)

      by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Sunday August 13, 2017 @12:00PM (#55003233)

      Is that really the average age of all employees or an "Engineer" positions age?

      According to TFA, 29 is the median age of all employees at both Google and Facebook.

      TFA says the "29" comes from the Huffington Post, and provides a link. Follow the link to Huffington Post, and they say the number came from ComputerWorld and PayScale.com. ComputerWorld pulls the number from a claim in Robert Heath's lawsuit, the subject of TFA, thus closing the circle.

      • by Nethead ( 1563 )

        Good research, Bill.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Yeah, in one fell swoop he's managed to surpass the ability of all previous Slashdot editors combined.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I guess the next question is: is this different from other large tech companies? Most companies are a hierarchy: cheap (young) labor on the bottom fills up most of all positions, and then management takes up less and less positions as you go higher. Old people are usually driven out when their wages stagnate, so instead of going entry level -> junior -> senior -> management (or whatever route is appropriate) they go entry -> junior -> switch jobs to senior with some leadership capacity ->

        • I guess the next question is: is this different from other large tech companies?

          This is highly variable. There are lots of big companies that don't have this problem at all. The last two I worked for had (my estimation from looking at my coworkers, not real data) median ages in the mid forties overall, and among senior developers, closer to the lower fifties.

          Which seems about right to me, actually. Experience means a lot.

  • Wait wait wait (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 13, 2017 @09:35AM (#55002723)

    I thought Google was all about the diversity. Are you telling me they don't believe older workers can accomplish the same as younger workers?

    Certainly that can't be because of biological differences. It therefore must be about ageism and bean counting.

    That would make Google....Evil.

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      All companies virtue signal. Most successful IT companies hire young White and Asian men because IQ matters, they are easy to mould and abuse and you generally don't get much shit if you have to fire them.

      The cost of statistically indicated discrimination at the moment is lower than the alternative. Brian Reid being a case in point. Civil lawsuits are a lottery fought on feelings as much as facts and the media shapes the feelings to presuppose discrimination when there is no equality of outcome. So when rea

      • Re:Wait wait wait (Score:4, Insightful)

        by alvinrod ( 889928 ) on Sunday August 13, 2017 @10:20AM (#55002875)
        Most companies hire white and Asian men because those are the majority of people obtaining degrees in computer and IT fields and applying for positions. That's why quota systems at companies aren't going to fix the problem. Even if company X does almost exclusively hire women or non-Asian minorities, it just means that the white and Asian men end up working somewhere else. It isn't as though there are a shortage of tech positions available for anyone who's capable enough to demonstrate a bit of competence.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          Average age of 29? I dunno about software development but in real engineering fields you're still a youngblood and "just getting started" at that age.

          Most companies hire white and Asian men because those are the majority of people obtaining degrees in computer and IT fields and applying for positions. That's why quota systems at companies aren't going to fix the problem. Even if company X does almost exclusively hire women or non-Asian minorities, it just means that the white and Asian men end up working somewhere else. It isn't as though there are a shortage of tech positions available for anyone who's capable enough to demonstrate a bit of competence.

          In my engineering class it was 2/3 male and among those males less than 1/5 were black (and not African-American but actual Africans). The rest were a mix of whites, Asians, and Indians.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            A 29 year old could have 11 years of experience if they got a job right out of high school. That would put them in the beginning of their competent phase.

            But google hires PhDs. So their median is like 5 years. At that stage, every developer's first instinct is to throw away what the last guy did to avoid having to learn how it works. That doesn't bode well.

        • Re:Wait wait wait (Score:4, Informative)

          by Pinky's Brain ( 1158667 ) on Sunday August 13, 2017 @04:55PM (#55004433)

          No, I'm saying that companies discriminate above and beyond that for the very rational reason that people from under-represented protected classes represent a risk to the company come firing time. At will employment laws don't really help in that regard, since the civil rights act pre-empts it.

          "In fact, on average, damages are probably relatively low in hiring cases, reinforcing incentives to avoid hiring protected-class members and to risk lawsuits from applicants rather than employees"

          https://books.google.com/books... [google.com]

          Of course none of this is official policy, ever said out loud, or even admitted to themselves by people in these companies a lot of the time. We in the west are very good at maintaining culpable deniability at all times. That's why the only way to really get a given statistical distribution you think is fair is to punish companies based purely on statistical evidence, as happens with companies fulfilling federal contracts as the book points out. Do you really want this level of central planning for the economy in general though?

        • That's why quota systems at companies aren't going to fix the problem.,

          Is it a 'problem though?" I'm far, far more concerned about age discrimination than the fact that a minority of women have decided to take up the computer sciences at college.

      • by dcw3 ( 649211 )

        Most successful IT companies hire young White and Asian men because IQ matters, they are easy to mould and abuse and you generally don't get much shit if you have to fire them.

        Um, if IQ matters so much, they wouldn't be so easy to "mould". Clearly Pinky's brain has been lobotomized. Joking aside, your premise is so racist/sexist that you're going to be dismissed w/o most people reading beyond the first paragraph.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward


      I thought Google was all about the diversity. Are you telling me they don't believe older workers can accomplish the same as younger workers?

      Google only cares about diversity that's hip. Unless you're a member of a one of the traditionally defined repressed groups, fuck you. The world is divided into opressors and opressees. If you're an old white male, you're an opressor, and fuck you.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The ideology on the left is all about "deconstructing". Deconstructing gender, for example. If you self-identify as a gender fluid armadillo and demand to be called "it", everyone has to cater to that or risk losing their job.

      However, as a 45 year old man, I can't self-identify as 25 years old and date young women. You see, THERE all of a sudden we are allowed to judge by looks.

      • Um..yea you can. You just need to get off your ass and get into reasonable shape.

      • At 25 many of them still don't know how to fuck properly though. It always felt to me like a trade-off between age and young looks.

      • Re:Wait wait wait (Score:4, Informative)

        by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Monday August 14, 2017 @12:18AM (#55006089) Homepage

        That would be the fake left. The ideology of the real left is left = workers and right = bosses and issues that affect every worker, universal health care, a living wage for all workers, equal access to democracy and equal access to justice. The fake left, the main stream media fabrication, the SJW tools of the bosses, the one designed to break up left = workers, sure "genital mutilation of the acceptable kind?!?" is an issue but make not mistake it is not an issue for the majority of workers or the real left.

        Google has a rock solid reputation for being ageist and this from the very beginning, the only reason they a starting to change, is to protect the already employed who grew old at Google whilst they rabidly excluded all other older people, now it's their turn and well, well, it's time to change the rules.

    • Re: Wait wait wait (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ilguido ( 1704434 ) on Sunday August 13, 2017 @10:50AM (#55002965)

      Certainly that can't be because of biological differences. It therefore must be about ageism and bean counting.

      Actually, since older engineers are probably male, it is about biological differences.

    • Re:Wait wait wait (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Tough Love ( 215404 ) on Sunday August 13, 2017 @11:05AM (#55003015)

      I thought Google was all about the diversity.

      Don't you get it yet? Google is all about the hypocrisy. Example: Google wants everybody to use its cloud to support modern, efficient remote working. Yet remote working is largely banned at Google. Example: google tells you that privacy is dead, get over it [marketwatch.com] but if you dox Eric Schmidt you will be sued to the ends of the earth. Example: Google says "don't be evil" then does the opposite.

      • Re: Wait wait wait (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 13, 2017 @01:13PM (#55003507)

        privacy is *not* for the little people.

      • Thr whole Western system is about hypocrisy, which often nowadays went to absurd levels.

        Gay marriage aloud, polygamy is a crime.

        Going butt naked is aloud, but putting on a headscarf is a crime.

        Mere extrapolation of the level of scientific understanding millions of years into the past is a law, but if you state obvious biological differences between races or genders, you are a bigoted Nobel laureate or Harvard PhD.

      • Are you thinking of IBM? Also, you dox anyone who has dinner with multiple presidents should expect to receive a nice "fuck you" response. I'm a nobody, but if I was doxxed, they can expect a visit...
    • Google software repeatedly invited the same 40+ year old female for job interviews and Google humans repeatedly turned her down for jobs because she was too old. The software was looking at her skill set.

      She's going to make a lot more money off them than if they had hired her.

      • by dbIII ( 701233 )

        She's going to make a lot more money off them than if they had hired her.

        That's kind of the point of punitive legal action.

    • I thought Google was all about the diversity. Are you telling me they don't believe older workers can accomplish the same as younger workers?

      Google is basically a company run by and for aging college kids, except that they are now millionaires and can get away with even more shit than they could in college. That's why everything is provided for them on campus: food, laundry, etc. It's also why employees at Google are treated as immature kids. Age discrimination is part of Google's corporate DNA.

      • Re:Wait wait wait (Score:5, Insightful)

        by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Sunday August 13, 2017 @02:37PM (#55003925)

        Younger workers are often willing to put in lots of extra time on a project without being asked. Older workers often prefer to have some sort of life outside of work; so, if they are expected to put in extra time, they want to be asked - and will sometimes still say no.

        The people in power st Google - and other places - seem to think it's perfectly fine to discriminate based on these factors. Funny thing is, the people in power often want to do stuff outside of work and expect to be accommodated without penalty... they just don't think the little people deserve the same consideration.

        • Older people also know that putting in lots of extra time doesn't make them more productive, particularly in fields like software development.

    • I think age is a biological difference. FWIW.
    • Certainly that can't be because of biological differences

      I'll bite: why not? The Fields medal limits to under 40, I've heard it pointed out on Slashdot that most mathematicians who have made substantive contributions did so by age 30. It's not universally true [slate.com] but still a strong trend.

      With women and people of color, the argument is they are discouraged from entering fields dominated by white dudebros. Maybe that's true of old fogeys too, I could see that, but there should be older employees there who were younger when they were hired. I have no idea if that's

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Age discrimination, sexism, monopolies, censorship, spying... I wish we had the old google back.

    • by DontBeAMoran ( 4843879 ) on Sunday August 13, 2017 @09:42AM (#55002749)

      You mean the Google that did age discrimination, sexism, monopolies, censorship and spying without our knowledge?

      • I am glad all this is happening to google. Maybe they will finally realize that replacing merit with social just at a workplace does not pay off, and others will follow suit.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      An employer whose employee's age/race/gender proportions exactly match the proportions of applicants would be acting with no bias at all.

      And they would appear to be terribly biased and would be sued for all three categories of discrimination.

  • by K. S. Kyosuke ( 729550 ) on Sunday August 13, 2017 @09:47AM (#55002771)

    In 2004 Larry Page fired Brian Reid nine days before IPO costing Reid 45 million in unvested stock options. Reid was fired for lack of "cultural fit". Reid has settled for an undisclosed amount.

    Wow. That's quite something. I had no idea that Hölzle was such a little piece of shit:

    'He was fired by Larry Page (who was 30 at the time) in February 2004, after being told he was not a "cultural fit" by Rosing, and that his ideas were "too old to matter" by Hölzle, according to Reid.'

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Noishkel ( 3464121 )
      Well, now I suddenly am a little glade I had to quit college for network engineering to get an immediate job in trucking. Especially since most of the people I knew in tech in the early 00s have now left the tech industry, largely because of how bad working in California is for anyone right of Mao or quiet enough to not be noticed.
    • by g01d4 ( 888748 )
      Ideas aren't supposed to correlate with age. To be sure any assertion that an idea is "too old to matter" should have objective reasons behind it.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    We encourage open debate on matters of equality, but you're all fired.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      mod +1Hilarious
  • Now This (Score:4, Insightful)

    by RottenJ ( 2060834 ) on Sunday August 13, 2017 @10:20AM (#55002871)
    As a 45 year old, white, straight male I am slightly more desirable than nuclear waste when it comes to being employed in tech nowadays. I hope they prevail and some sort of precedent is established. I guess the only purpose of having a VP O' Diversity is to ensure sufficient hues of dermis and the correct ratio of penises/vaginas, fuck all else.
    • the only purpose of having a VP O' Diversity is to ensure sufficient hues of dermis and the correct ratio of penises/vaginas

      Actually, they don't even care about penises/vaginas, but about whether you claim to have one. Thus, apply lipstick, get a boob job, for a better cultural fit also dye your hair purple, and you're all set.

      You see, in the '30s your skin had to be white and your genitals unmutilated. The preferred skin color and shape of genitals have changed, but the whole concept stays the same.

      • whoa, that's brilliant!

        If you're 45 year old white/asian guy trying to get a SV job, just wear a dress and a wig and talk in falsetto and claim you're a Trans. You'll get hired right away.

        Just remember to sit when you pee in the gender-neutral bathroom.

      • Can't he just wear a padded bra instead of a boob job?
    • Re:Now This (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mrsam ( 12205 ) on Sunday August 13, 2017 @12:39PM (#55003369) Homepage

      As a 48 year old, white, straight male I am constantly getting harassed by headhunters, and my current employer seems to be in a constant state of a nervous breakdown, afraid that I could leave for greener pastures at any time.

      I understand that in some circles it is quite fashionable to be a victim, in order to seek sympathy and acceptance. I respectfully choose not to participate in the victim industry, or engage in victim mentality. Now, if you excuse me, I have to go back to hacking on this fine, beautiful weekend, in order to keep my skills up to date, and be employable...

      • I understand that in some circles it is quite fashionable to be a victim, in order to seek sympathy and acceptance. I respectfully choose not to participate in the victim industry, or engage in victim mentality. Now, if you excuse me, I have to go back to hacking on this fine, beautiful weekend, in order to keep my skills up to date, and be employable..

        Thankyou. Please enjoy your coding, and please release it as open source if you get a chance.

      • You're already at +5 insightful so I'll comment rather than mod you up further. You've already got it . . . it's not who you are or where you come from, it's what you *do* that matters. Stay on it. ;-)
      • by dbIII ( 701233 )

        As a 48 year old, white, straight male I am constantly getting harassed by headhunters

        Perversely that only happens when you have a job. It's kind of weird to see the headhunting still going on when there have been mass layoffs by similar companies and less qualified folks being chased than those freely available. I've seen that from the outside BTW so comments about my own ability are irrelevant.

        • > Perversely that only happens when you have a job.

          I've noticed this. I think that one issue is that they are often unable to ask your previous employers or reliable references for the real reason you left your last position. And much like dating, the fact that you have a stable, long-term relationship means that you know _how_, and are thus immediately more desirable.

          • Another reason is that, when there are more jobs than people to fill them, most competent people have a job. When it's easy to find a warm body for a job slot, the headhunters don't need you, and you're quite likely unemployed.

            • by dbIII ( 701233 )
              I don't think reason comes into it - the employment agencies are just set in their ways.
              Example - long ago when I was a recent graduate headhunters were hassling me despite a large government owned military lab shutting down and flooding the employment market with many far better qualified people prepared to work for just about anything they could get. Some ended up delivering pizza.
      • Honestly, I think it depends on the company. There's an obsession with "young" in start-ups because (a) they think "Won't be boxed in by existing orthodoxy" and (b) (most important) cheap. Move to a mature business with a better handle on its long term IT requirements, and experience is a bonus, not a handicap.

        Most start-ups go bankrupt, and only a few companies get to continue being run after 20 years the way they were run after 2. Google is... well, people have a habit of not wanting to criticize a com

      • As a 48 year old, white, straight male I am constantly getting harassed by headhunters, and my current employer seems to be in a constant state of a nervous breakdown, afraid that I could leave for greener pastures at any time.

        I understand that in some circles it is quite fashionable to be a victim, in order to seek sympathy and acceptance. I respectfully choose not to participate in the victim industry, or engage in victim mentality. Now, if you excuse me, I have to go back to hacking on this fine, beautiful weekend, in order to keep my skills up to date, and be employable...

        As you say yourself, you are in demand, therefore have no reason to "act like a victim". I know it's really self-affirming to put your success down to your own actions and so implicitly judge others for their 'weakness', but if you're not in their situation. If you were in a situation where maybe there weren't so many jobs, and on the receiving end of discrimination at every turn, you might feel differently.

        48 is not so old, try getting a new tech job at 60. Hopefully for us all by the time we get there the

    • I hope they prevail and some sort of precedent is established.

      You would think that companies might would learn after Lockheed Martin's flat out millions of dollars loss for their blatant and rampant age discrimination. [law360.com]

    • by ebvwfbw ( 864834 )

      You're on the wrong coast. Get away from the left coast and you'll be fine.

  • Google's employees are managers and engineers. Everyone else are contractors. I worked at Google in my late 30's (2007-08) and early 40's (2011-12) on various contract assignments. No one cared about my age when I worked on the IT help desk, swept the floor in the inventory warehouse, or rearranged the cables for the sixth time in the data center because the 20-something network engineer had a bug up his ass.
    • I don't think you made any point. You did nonconsecutive contract busy work that didn't require any engineering. Telling you to rewire for the 6th time reads like "get the fuck out of my face, you're annoying". I guess you made the point the 20 something didn't care for you.
      • You did nonconsecutive contract busy work that didn't require any engineering.

        My last contract for Google was building out a test bed data center. The engineering in question was putting the shit together. Some of which wasn't well thought out and had to be changed quite frequently. I left the contract with a glowing recommendation from the project lead.

  • by rbrander ( 73222 ) on Sunday August 13, 2017 @01:37PM (#55003635) Homepage

    May I interject this is a silicon valley thing more than it is an everywhere thing. There's certainly some point at which younger bosses start to disregard older opinions, but especially if you've put in many of those years in the company, I found GenX and Millenials quite willing to listen to me and learn from me. (And I'm one of those jerks that will get his back up about an issue and sends around multi-page e-mail rants; people didn't read those, mostly, but they didn't stop listening when I had short, relevant comments to make.)

    Granted, I worked at the opposite end of some kind of job-type spectrum: municipal utilities, where knowing what was different about how we put water pipes in the ground 20 years back is useful information. And most new ideas are suspicious. But, you know, a third of our economy is in things like government and basic services that are NOT dynamically changing with consumer fashions every year; there's a lot of good jobs with that "dull" part of the economy.

    One funny thing is that I was teaching latest-thing high-tech to those people 20 and 30 years my junior, some of them were my bosses. I'm a civil engineer, but also had a CompSci degree, and kept up with many new things even if not the very latest. So they would be coming to me for help just doing Excel VBA macros or basic cgi-bin web solutions when the corporate apps were very clumsy. And I lost count of the people I taught basic SQL skills to, because "Report Applications" like Crystal Reports or Business Objects are a huge pain to learn when you just want a simple answer to a basic query.

    I left at 57 to a lot of backpats and almost-tearful cries that they couldn't manage without me. They have, of course, though I've answered a lot of phone calls about How I Did That One Thing for them.

    If Silicon Valley is indeed a dysfunctional family of overwork and discrimination and backstabbing competition, maybe you should stop picking your career based on Hollywood imagery of superhackers, not to mention dreams of millions before you're 30. Your odds are about the same as that high-school star quarterback who imagines a life starring in the NFL. Your odds suck, the place is a toxic-waste bin, so the game's not worth the candle.

    Once enough people say, "screw silicon valley, I want to work with sane people", maybe silicon valley will have to start treating employees a little better.

    • May I interject this is a silicon valley thing more than it is an everywhere thing

      It's not a Silicon Valley thing either, it's just a whiner thing. There are plenty of jobs available in Silicon Valley for people who have the skills.

      There are not quite so many jobs available for people who still use tables to lay out their HTML, or who only know COBOL. (There are jobs for people who only know COBOL, but not in Silicon Valley).

      There are certainly companies that discriminate on age (and Google might be one of them, I don't know), but there are also companies that discriminate based on

      • "The proper thing to do ..."

        Shudder ... shudder ...

        My ancestors moved to America so they could make their own choices instead of hearing disguised opinions about what is proper.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I left Silicon Valley when I was 38, seeing the writing on the wall - having started to get worse and worse performance reviews (along with my late 30's peers). I could see the setup coming.

    So, I bailed, and moved back east, where I thought I might escape the discrimination. Hah. Wishful thinking.

    I managed to get a new job with a somewhat large company that makes utility measurement equipment. About a year after I was hired, the CEO came to our office for a global townhall, during which he actually said tha

  • So, new company comes along, does things differently, the old style programmer does not work in the new dynamic... just sue? I build houses. My entire crew are all techie nerd guys. We communicate alot, 'thats not how its traditionally done' means squat, we are always looking for new methods, materials, and tools to build faster and stronger. If I do or dont hire some old stiff carpenter who wont change with the times and is a drag on the team... he can just sue cause I didnt hire him or sue because he
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Years ago when they still sent tech people to staff booths at job fairs I would hand over a resume, the tech person would look at it. We would talk for a bit about what the team did and in some cases I would have a novel solution to the current problem that would save the company money. Everything seemed to be a fit and they promise to call me in a week or similar. Everything goes wonderfully till the formal application goes to the HR department. Then everyone just stops returning my phone calls/emails

    • by Anonymous Coward

      > Years ago when they still sent tech people to staff booths at job fairs I would hand over a resume, the tech person would look at it. We would talk for a bit about what the team did and in some cases I would have a novel solution to the current problem that would save the company money. Everything seemed to be a fit and they promise to call me in a week or similar. Everything goes wonderfully till the formal application goes to the HR department. Then everyone just stops returning my phone calls/emails

    • Why do you have date of birth showing anywhere? If the application has it, consider filing a complaint with your appropriate state agency, or talk to a lawyer who specializes in this sort of thing. They don't need to know it until you're hired, and even asking for it opens them up to lawsuits.

  • Without additional context, I can't judge whether an average age of 29 is "bad" or not. Is that for the whole company, or just technical staff? How do other tech companies compare? i.e. is Google much worse than its peers?

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