Age Discrimination in the News

By Leeds Brown Law | July 30, 2016

New York age discrimination attorneys at Leeds Brown make sure to stay well informed about the many discrimination cases filed each year. If you are an employee who is over 40, you may want to stay abreast of some of the latest “big” age discrimination cases making the news. Age discrimination is often explained away by other factors and, according to many, does not receive the same attention or treatment as other types of discrimination such as race and disability. When someone files an age discrimination case against a business giant like Google, people take notice.

The workforce in America is aging, and employees are working well into their “golden years.” For some, it is out of necessity. For others, they see no reason to retire just because they reach a certain age. They may love being productive, engaging with others, and boosting their savings. While some companies try to cut costs by encouraging older workers to retire, others simply refuse to hire them. This unwillingness may be due to predisposed bias toward and assumptions about older employees or concerns about paying higher salaries to more experienced workers.

Whether it is overt or subtle, age discrimination is illegal in this country. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) makes it unlawful to discriminate against an applicant or employee based on age if that person is over 40. Despite the fact that age discrimination occurs, it can be difficult to prove in a court of law, especially if there is one single victim. As evidenced by the cases filed against Google last year, however, there are situations when multiple allegations of discrimination create renewed interest in age discrimination in the American workforce.

Google Case Sheds Light on Systematic Age Discrimination

According to a report, an age discrimination filed against Google in 2015 by two people may expand to include other individuals if a motion recently filed by one of the Plaintiffs is successful.

In April 2015, Robert Heath filed a lawsuit against Google alleging that the company “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.”

In February 2011, Mr. Heath applied and interviewed for a position as a software engineer at Google. He was 60 at the time. According to the lawsuit, Heath had both the experience and qualifications for the job. He engaged in a technical phone interview with Google and a Google recruiter told him he was a great candidate. Google did not make Heath a job offer.

Heath’s lawsuit claims that the 2013 median age for a Google employee was 29. According to date from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median age for a computer programmer in the United States is 43. Heath’s complaint alleges that the median age of Google’s entire workforce is largely disproportionate to the US workplace norms.

Last year Cheryl Fillekes joined Heath’s lawsuit suit. Fillekes, who is in her 50s, participated in several Google interviews on various occasions but was not hired for any of the positions. Fillekes states that Google interviewed her in person for four different jobs between 2007 to 2014, “including some occasions when Google affirmatively reached out to her about the opening based on her impressive qualifications and didn’t hire her,” according to court documents. When Google first interviewed her, she was 47.

Google may Face Class Action Age Discrimination Charges

In recent weeks, Fillekes filed a motion seeking to make the case “opt in.” If the court grants the motion, it will give other parties the option to join the age discrimination lawsuit. The case would be similar to a class action.

Anyone who didn’t get hired after interviewing in person, at age 40 or above, for Google engineering, software, site reliability engineering or systems jobs from Aug. 13, 2010, to the present would be allowed to join the suit. Heath’s lawsuit seeks to have an even broader class certified which would extend the opportunity for inclusion to applicants who did not get to the in-person interview stage.

If the court grants Fillekes’s motion, Google will have to produce the names and contact information for “every applicant over 40 who had in-person interviews” for the positions listed above. The candidates would then be contacted and given the opportunity to opt-in.

Google’s defense at this time, is similar to the defense of most employers accused of age discrimination. The company’s position is that the motivations behind its employment decisions included reasonable factors other than age.

Time will tell whether or not Google’s defense holds up in court. The court will entertain Filleke’s November 2016. Heath’s initial case will go to trial in July 2017.

Contact New York Age Discrimination Attorneys

New York age discrimination attorneys at Leeds Brown can assist you if you think you are the victim of age discrimination. We are a full-service employment law firm with a specialty in discrimination claims. Our experienced and passionate lawyers have spent decades protecting the rights of New York workers of all ages and have secured millions of dollars in monetary awards for clients. We would be happy to review your case and help determine the best way for you to proceed to secure the outcome you want.

Call Leeds Brown today. Our New York age discrimination lawyers are available to speak with you 24/7. Call 1-800-585-4658.

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