Google Sued for Age Discrimination…Again
One stereotype of the current tech atmosphere is that it’s dominated by young people–those of us who grew up using computers and other devices. Well it turns out that that stereotype might not be too far off. Moreover, according to a new lawsuit, it might be that way on purpose. Robert Heath, a 64-year-old engineer, is suing the king of all tech giants–Google–for age discrimination.
He claims that he had an interview with Google for an open position in software engineering for which he was qualified. His resume included successful positions in the same field at other reputable companies such as IBM and Compaq; however, Heath claims that he was not really seriously considered for the job, and that he wasn’t given a fair shot at the interview. The complaint Health filed states that:
The Google interviewer was barely fluent in English. The interviewer used a speaker phone that did not function well. Mr. Heath asked him, politely and repeatedly, if he would use his phone’s handset, and the interviewer refused, stating that ‘we’ would have to ‘suffer’ through the interview using the speaker phone because he did not want to have to hold the handset through the whole interview. Communication was very difficult, and Mr. Heath and the interviewer had difficulties understanding each other throughout the interview.
The complaint goes on to explain the issue with the interview, stating:
By conducting the interview as described above, 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
Heath was ultimately not offered the position he sought. He filed the lawsuit on April 22 in a San Jose, California federal court. He aims for it to be a class-action suit for anyone over the age of 40 who have been rejected from a job at Google.
Heath does seem at least supported by statistics about the median age at Google. According to Payscale.com, which relies on self reporting, the median age of Google employees is 30, which is certainly lower than the average age of the American worker. It’s even lower than the average worker in the computer science and engineering fields–the Department of Labor puts those median ages in the early-40 range.
Heath’s claim certainly isn’t the first time that Google has been accused of age discrimination. In another case, Reid v. Google, that was settled before it made it to trial, former executive Brian Reid claimed that he was discriminated against and eventually let go because of his age.
While Silicon Valley consistently makes the press for its dearth of racial and gender diversity, age discrimination seems to be a less consistent complaint. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen though–now Heath has the burden of claiming that it’s enough for the court to get involved.