Google suffers blow as age-discrimination suit clears hurdle

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)


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  • Shirley Valentine

    Age Discrimination at Google and all high Tech Companies is rampant. It is almost impossible to prove but just look at the median age of their employees ~28 and you know that it happening like wildfire. You can run for president of the USA at 70 or even 80 but you cannot work in tech after 40.
    You go through twenty years of hell, losing the little that you saved and there is no one there to protect us. The Fed is not going to jump in because these tech companies run circles around the Fed and US gov. and do not even bother to pay their taxes. Two Sets of rules one for the corporations and very bootcamp type rules established for all employees. their credit scores must be perfect to be hired at all.

    I interviewed with Google last year for a senior eng.position. After the third interview, which should never even have been required I never heard back. It is all sickening and I have not worked or bothered to search for engineering positions since. For reference, I am 48 years old and fast running out of funds. Shame on these evil empires.

    • Dave

      Age discrimination in particular is a huge problem in the tech sector and always has been for years. Google and Facebook are some of the worst violators and they have been discriminating from their beginning. The big question is whether the victims in our justice system will ever be able to prevail over these wicked companies that use pretext to circumvent allegations of discrimination. They use unscrupulous means to hide discovery of emails and notes to thwart proof of discriminatory intent.

      • Shirley Valentine

        Mark Zuckerberg sees young people as smarter, so you just know how that will work in their hiring campaigns. It is just a stupid statement to make because with age one’s understanding crystallizes so that they don’t make rookie mistakes. I was 45 at MS and was head of debug and Test Lead on multiple products because I knew how to smell out the real issues. All the other Engineers would just look at me like deer caught in the headlights and were totally clueless as to what to do. I made it so that the products could be safely released and was ingenious in creating stress tests for products so that they would never be fearful of a recall. But the wicked companies have a one size fits all campaign now and the first thing HR do is weed out all Engineers over 40. It is so incredibly stupid – this blanket approach. They want young Engineers with tons of Energy that will not raise objections or question their products or direction. Ones that will keep their head down and constantly brown-nose to get a good performance review. Ones that will work for low salary expectations despite the high cost of living in tech valley.

        • Dave

          It just illustrates how truly ignorant these tech companies can be, just imagine the potential product innovations that they have stifled by excluding engineers over 40.