Everyone knows about Silicon Valley and the “high tech” culture that is in place. It is known for being both sexist and ageist, as described in The Brutal Ageism of Tech by Noam Scheiber. Thus it should be no surprise when the “flagship of technology”, Google, is sued for age discrimination by a female software developer.
Years in the making
the average age of programmers is 29 years of age versus a national average of 42 years of age
According to attorney James G. Ryan of Cullen and Dykman LLP, the software developer Cheryl Fillekes, originally sued Google in 2015. She had applied at Google multiple times, starting in 2007, for multiple positions. Fillekes was not hired though she claimed she was qualified for the positions. Most people would have given up after four attempts, but Fillekes had a reason to pursue Google. She claims that one of Google’s recruiter’s told her to falsify her age by changing the dates of her schooling on her resume. Additionally she had statements from other applicants that they had been treated the same way. The numbers also worked against Google, where the average age of programmers is 29 years of age versus a national average of 42 years of age.
Class action certified
According to Ryan “U.S. District Judge Beth Freeman recently certified the case against Google, which in essence permits aggrieved applicants aged 40 and older to unite against Google in a single suit.” Naturally Google denied the allegations and tried to have the case dismissed. The certification said that all people who “interviewed in person with Google for a software engineer, site reliability engineer or systems engineer position when they were 40 years old or older, and received notice on or after August 28, 2014, that they were refused employment, will have an opportunity to join in the collective action against Google.” The judge also ordered Google to compile a list of all the applicants for software developer over the age of 40 who interviewed for the position.
“all companies now have such policies, and thus they should not be considered proof that companies do not discriminate.”
Google argued for a dismissal citing its policy against discrimination as a defense. Judge Freeman did not accept that saying, according to Ryan, “that all companies now have such policies, and thus they should not be considered proof that companies do not discriminate.”
And that statement is the lesson that many companies need to learn. Just because you have a written policy does not automatically mean you are free from claims of discrimination. You need to insure that employees are trained on the policy and that it is being adhered to in daily action. Just saying it doesn’t mean it actually exists.