An age-discrimination lawsuit against Google has cleared a hurdle — over Google’s objections — and received conditional certification as a class action.
“How does age factor into one’s Googleyness?” Judge Beth Freeman of U.S. District Court in San Jose wrote at the start of her order handed down Wednesday.
Conditional certification is the first of two stages in approving a lawsuit as a class action and allows court-authorized notices to be sent to potential plaintiffs who could join the lawsuit.
Plaintiff Cheryl Fillekes claims Google interviewed her in person for four different jobs from 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 a court filing. She was 47 when first interviewed, the document said.
Fillekes’ lawsuit also revealed that Google is under federal investigation over age-discrimination complaints.
Freeman said she found none of Google’s arguments against Fillekes’ motion for class certification to be compelling. Google had argued, for example, that it had a policy against age discrimination. “Having such a policy does not necessarily shield a company from a discrimination suit, particularly in light of the evidence and allegations presented here,” the judge wrote.
Among Fillekes’ allegations is her claim that a Google recruiter told her to put her graduation dates on her resume so the company could see how old she was. Fillekes also submitted to the court declarations from seven people she claimed had experiences with Google similar to hers.
A Google spokesperson described the lawsuit’s allegations as “without merit,” and said the company would continue to defend its position vigorously. “We have strong policies against discrimination on any unlawful basis, including age,” the spokesperson said.
While the lawsuit has cleared a hurdle, it was a relatively easy one to get over, as evidentiary requirements in the first stage of class action certification are “relaxed,” Freeman noted. The second stage, when the class action may be legally certified, has more stringent requirements for evidence.
Photo: Technology workers are seen outside a Google office building (Bay Area News Group)