Denied work at Google because of median age criteria, 64 year old sues Google for age-discrimination
Robert Heath, a man from Florida has filed an age-discrimination case against Google in a federal court, attempting to form a class action of workers who claim they were not given a chance to work at the search giant because of their age.
According to the complaint (PDF), Heath was denied work by Google in 2011, inspite of him having “highly-pertinent qualifications and experience,” with a Google recruiter calling him a “great candidate”. Heath was 60 years old at that time.
The dispute claims that the median age of Google employees is 29 years old, which is below the median age of all US workers. According to US Department of Labor, the median age is 42.4 years. The median ages for US workers in computer-related fields are same: for “computer and mathematical occupations” the median age is 41.1 years, for “computer programmers” it’s 42.8 years, and for software developers the median is 40.6 years.
Heath’s online resume stated he was looking for a position with “opportunities related to software development [and] I would be interested in assignments related to embedded systems or the world wide web and internet assignments regarding C++, Java, PHP, and other software technologies.”
He had a master certification in Java and C++, and bragged about scoring “higher than 96% of all previous test takers” for the Java certification and being in the 89 percent for the C++ test.
Heath was contacted by Sam Chun, a Google recruiter in February 2011. They then organized a phone interview for Heath with a Google engineer; however, it did not go well. Heath’s lawyer points it out in the complaint:
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 interview contained three sets of technical questions. According to Heath, the first two set of questions were answered “completely and accurately.” However, the Google interviewer refused to look at his papers for the solution to the third set of questions, instead he was made to read the program code over the phone.
The lawsuit quotes proof in an earlier age discrimination case, Reid v. Google, where California requests courts had allowed to move towards trial, before it was settled. In that case, Reid said he was called an “old man,” and an “old fuddy-duddy” by colleagues, and was told in his performance appraisal that Google was different in part due to its “younger contributors” and “super fast pace.” Reid said he was told he wasn’t a “cultural fit,” and later removed from his job.
A state appeals court ruled that Google would have to face trial in the Reid case in 2007, and the case settled shortly after that.
Heath was never recruited at Google, unlike Reid who claims that he got fired unfairly. Heath’s lawyers look to form a class of all individuals 40 or older who wanted to work with Google but were not recruited from August 13, 2010 till present. Google’s “pattern and practice of discriminating” failed to comply with federal age discrimination laws, the complaint claims.
However, Google chose not to respond to Ars’ request for comment about the case. The company believes that the case is meritless and it will devoutly defend itself, as told to the Wall Street Journal.
The WSJ also saw into where the “median age” data in Heath’s lawsuit came from. The numbers are obtained from Payscale.com, which processed the median based on self-reporting by 840 Google employees. On the other hand, Payscale found that four other tech companies—AOL, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Salesforce—have even younger employees.
The entire data from Payscale is given below. (The company said Google’s median age was 29 in 2013, which explains the disparity between the lawsuit and this table—probably Heath’s lawyers didn’t have access to the newest data.)
Company Median Age
Aol, LLC 27
Facebook Inc 28
Linkedin Corporation 29
Salesforce.com, Inc. 29
Google, Inc. 30
Amazon.com Inc 31
Apple Computer, Inc 31
Yahoo Inc. 31
eBay Inc. 32
Nvidia Corp 32
Adobe Systems Incorporated 33
Microsoft Corp 33
Intel Corporation 34
Nokia, Inc. 34
Sony Electronics Company 36
Dell, Inc. 37
International Business Machines (IBM) Corp. 38
Oracle Corp. 38
Hewlett-Packard Company 39