back to article Both HPs allegedly axed people just for being old, California court told

The two offshoots of Hewlett Packard have been hit with a class action lawsuit in the US, accusing the pre-split IT giant of discriminating against older employees during job culls. The suit was filed with the US Northern District Court in San Jose, California, this week by four plaintiffs on behalf of former employees. It …

  1. robertcirca

    customers do not like inexperienced people

    Customers, especially the big ones, do not like inexperienced sales people. It even gets worse when service technicians do not know how to open the door of a rack. HPE has good products. Some are really fine. However, if you cannot support them anymore, the customers will look for other solutions. In a couple of years HPE will consist of only 500 persons. All of them managers trying to optimize their boni. I have got tears in my eyes, because it used to be such a good, really good company.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: customers do not like inexperienced people

      The people who do the actual work don't like inexperienced vendors, but the clueless MBA frat boys just see the numbers and kickbacks, er, "incentives".

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: customers do not like inexperienced people

      Customers, especially the big ones, do not like inexperienced sales people

      Customers have only themselves to blame. In many cases they outsourced a competent and experienced in-house IT team to save money. Whether they did save money or not is immaterial, what counts is that they put the employees under the control of a third party managing purely to a rather one-sided SLA. They can hardly change the terms of the deal, and say "ooh, we forgot to say that we wanted exactly the same volume of staff with the same depth of experience".

      I say the customers get what they deserve. The only people to feel sorry for are the front line staff, treated like sh*t by their former and current employers.

  2. ma1010

    Trying to make themselves younger?

    Really? First of all, it's their (now) geezers who made them great, so the idea of "becoming younger" doesn't really make a lot of sense. Secondly, it's not really about age per se; it's all about MONEY.

    Generally, older employees get paid more than younger ones. So, if you're one of the typical stupid, greedy, wildly overpaid and short-sighted asshats who seem to be in charge of most big big corporations these days (and get paid millions for plowing it under thanks to golden parachutes), you fire all your older, more experienced workers -- the guys who made the company great in the first place -- and hire a bunch of "yow'uns" you can pay more cheaply. Or, better yet, you can outsource everything to some third world country! Cut costs, push up that share price (for now), and, in the long term, cut your throat.

    Either way, you rid your company of the people who made it great in the first place. So what happens next? You enter what's called a slow death spiral. And join many other once excellent companies who are fading away today after following the same strategy. I'm sure all El Reg readers can come up with a list of members of this fraternity.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Trying to make themselves younger?

      Current company lost me, sysadmin with over 14 years' of experience. And underpaid too. I'm well over 45 at this stage in my life, got a lot of experience, some good, some bad, but I make full use of my experience.

      When the resignation letter hit the circuit, a counteroffer was extended - twice - but I declined.

      If they really appreciated me, they would've got a PFY, bumped my salary up, and have me mentor the PFY.

      Now they have to get some rookie in as they most probably will not be willing to pay for an experienced person. Will have to wait and see what happens here, but I get the feeling they will pay a lot of $$$ more.

      Change is good. Forgive and forget, and move on. Doesn't help to be vindictive and try a sneaky BOFH, it'll come back to haunt you when least you want it.

      The new job? It is not sysadmin work (TBH I'm getting tired of the same old, same old and needed a change of scenery) but software support. Should be good and interesting, and I'm really looking forward to it.

      Had a look at freelancing, will be buidling this up as an extra career in the years ahead as I'll be paid better and can therefore purchase my own tools and other neccessities to support my own private business.

      1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

        Re: Trying to make themselves younger?

        Ah software support, where people whinge why can't this software do my job for me at a click of a button and whinge when it does replace them with a click of a button.

    2. Tony Ferrelli

      Re: Trying to make themselves younger?

      Yeeeaah naaaah. You talk of the old people that work at HPE as knowledgeable, passionate people that can drive change. A lot of them are not that. They are bitter old barnacles clinging onto a sinking ship. HPE have a stunning habit of having the good staff you are talking about leaving for somewhere else, while firing the remaining good staff instead of shucking the crusty barnacles because they cost too much to remove.

      Where they are really screwing up is the younger generation of people they are bringing in to solve this problem. The decent, hard working young staff with half a brain see what is going and get out of there quick smart. That only leaves behind the less desirable young staff that fit in well with the barnacle culture. HPE have a cultural crisis and they have gone to war against wielding an almighty ledger and bludgeoning the good staff with a bottom line. They will never win it like that.

  3. robertcirca

    You Cannot Buy Experience and Love

    Those who mix up LOVE and SEX should stop reading here. You cannot buy love.

    Experience is a live-long process that gives you knowledge that you will not find in no training and no textbooks. When I finished my studies as an "IT expert" i thought I knew everything. Looking back I knew almost nothing.

    Are all people in the HUMAN RESSORCES department younger than 35? If YES, everything is clear. At least for me.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You Cannot Buy Experience and Love

      HP let me go the day after the compaq deal closed. I was 49.

      Went to a number of companies for interviews. It was soon apparent that I was too experienced for the jobs being advertised. The manager saw me as a threat to them even though I made it clear that I wasn't cut out to be a manager.

      As one place I didn't get past HR. This was with [redacted] but they used to be located right next to the M3 in Fleet. The young woman in HR could not get her brain past the fact that I left school at 15. WTF has that got to so with me at age 50? SFA if you ask me.

      After 30 minutes I just got up and walked out. An honours Degree in Engineering plus and an MSC in Computing did not matter because I didn't have 'A' levels.

      HR? Useless twats everyone of them.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: You Cannot Buy Experience and Love

        > This was with [redacted] but they used to be located right next to the M3 in Fleet.

        BT Syntegra, I presume?

        The bit of HR that dealt with recruitment were, in my experience, slightly 'over zealous' shall we say? For example, deciding that experienced hires needed to take a psychometric test.

        1. tiggity Silver badge

          Re: You Cannot Buy Experience and Love

          Ah the joys of psychometric tests (ignoring the useless validity / easy gaming of them).

          As a fresh graduate did a test at a potential employer for first job after degree (over a hundred miles from my then address)

          I was told I had failed because it indicated I was a liar.

          I asked them to point out what led them to that conclusion.

          It was based on a series of similar themed questions all based around "have you ever been late for anything important" - to which the answer was no..


          I'm one of these people that hates being late (for anything, no matter how trivial) so always factor in lots of extra time for potential problems

          Although this would have been first "real job" I had done plenty of weekend / Summer jobs and never been late ever (including walking through heavy snow when public transport reliability weather affected)

          Obviously years later, despite careful planning I have been late on a small number of occasions (as UK transport infrastructure grinds to a juddering halt way too often)

          The amusing point was me asking the HR bod to accompany me to reception so she could see when I checked in to the building .. it was over an hour and a half before start time of the process (several trains involved in journey so had factored in lots of wiggle room for missed connections)

          HR bod total inability to process fact that conflicted with her farcical psychometric test was quite amusing to observe

      2. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

        Re: You Cannot Buy Experience and Love

        Experience and wisdom come with being on the wrong side of 40 or 50 for many. You have seen much, do much, and hopefully learned much. Toss out the old relics and you end up reinventing the wheel. In my current company, in my group the last 4 hires are all past 40 when hired and couple were pushing 60. And we are a programming group.

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: You Cannot Buy Experience and Love

        "HR? Useless twats everyone of them."

        That's why we have freelancing.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You Cannot Buy Experience and Love


      "Are all people in the HUMAN RESOURCES department younger than 35? If YES, everything is clear. At least for me."

      It was a PFY from HR who handled my redundancy process. That person's manager was not long out of college either and no doubt on the management fast track. Not many much older than myself in my line of work at that company.

    3. Trigonoceps occipitalis Silver badge

      Re: You Cannot Buy Experience and Love

      Wisdom comes from experience. Experience is often a result of lack of wisdom.

      Sir TP

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So what?

    When I was there, I can think of three old codgers who were due to retire in two years.

    Just fall on your sword, grandad, take the money and let those of us who still have twenty years of mortgage payments ahead of us carry on.

    1. User McUser

      I also used to feel that way.

      But then I realized that I too will one day grow older...

      Or die trying.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So what?

      I am not near retirement age and still have to pay mortgage too.

      However I don't expect to be hired or promoted at the expense if someone being made redundant because of old age.

      See how you will feel at the same point in life if that happens to you.

      And if you think you have it hard - go over to the continent in places like Germany and France where usually somebody has to retire or die in order for someone younger to get a promotion.

    3. gudguy1a

      Re: So what?

      Ahhh, you might want to reconsider your comment, as some of those, ahhh, granddads may had had to take out another 20+ year mortgage to pay for their child's (or three) college tuition.

      Or, to pay for their grand-children's day care that the parent's cannot afford.

      Sooo.... think on those aspects a wee bit before you jump on some of the older population at work.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: So what?

        "Or, to pay for their grand-children's day care that the parent's cannot afford."

        Or undertake that day-care themselves.

    4. The Godfather

      Re: So what?

      Can't wait to see your comment in 15 years time.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It happened to me...

    I was the oldest in the little group I was in. I got the WFR package and signed lots of documents (including one that said I wouldn't sue them) when I left. I hope the reason for picking me was that I was the last one hired in the group, but I guess I'll never know. I could get a letter in the mail that includes me in the class for the lawsuit, but I'm not holding my breath.

    Thankfully I am now employed (albeit as a contractor) at another company that has the class A network just above HP's two. Life goes on.

    Anon for obvious reasons.

    1. 404

      Re: It happened to me...

      Eh, you'll see a check for $10 a couple of years from now...

  6. ecofeco Silver badge

    No surprise

    Age discrimination is so common in the U.S. that the backlog of complaints is 10 years long.

    1. Chika

      Re: No surprise

      Age discrimination is so common in the U.S....

      Unfortunately, as I'm finding to my cost and despite legislation, it's still alive and well in the UK too.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No surprise

      > Age discrimination is so common in the U.S. that the backlog of complaints is 10 years long.

      Or in other words, people should file their age discrimination lawsuit as soon as they enter the workforce.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wage slaves

    I used to be a SV type, with multiple startups, but now I am semi retired, teach University level EE, circuit design specifically. One of the things I hammer home is that basically nothing has changed at the circuit level in well over 50 years. You can take a 1960's EE and show him any subciruit schematic in the most modern CPU, and he'll be just as capable (more so, actually) of figuring out on his own what it does as a modern EE. Give him a bit of training in modern tools, and he'd be fully competative. In my experience, its similar in software. A company wanting to be younger is just code for exploiting younger workers because they will settle for low wages.

    MBA's have the most commodity skill set in any company. They should be the first to be "made younger".

    1. Jeffrey Nonken

      Re: Wage slaves

      It's not just the wages; it's the benefits. People's medical costs increase as they age.

      1. Brian Meehan

        Re: Wage slaves

        I am not sure that's true,,,younger workers are constantly having kids, which is expensive in itself, but those kids get sick, go to the doctor, break bones, etc, i think, on average, a younger workers family of 4 is more expensive than an older worker of one.

        Another commentator said it, most HR workers are under 35, they are making the decisions based on,, well, whatever it is, it isn't actually the needs of the company, it is the needs of the HR department.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Wage slaves

          Oxymoron alert!

          HR workers

      2. Warm Braw Silver badge

        Re: Wage slaves

        People's medical costs increase as they age

        And women's medical costs are significantly higher than men's. Is that an acceptable argument for throwing the women overboard first?

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hewlett-Packard is now Agilent

    And has been for like twenty years. They spun off the HP brand with some mindless bastard at the helm to go and sell consumer tat to the hordes.

    Just saying.

    1. Unicornpiss Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: Hewlett-Packard is now Irrelevant

      Or at least that's what my mind interpreted that as at first glance. In my late 40s, I guess old age is catching up...

      Seriously though, I've seen this happen before. When the older talent leaves, either through BS like HP's illegal and unethical practices, or simply through retirement, the knowledge base shrinks and those that do not remember the past (and what worked and/or failed) are truly going to repeat it. By the time it's all relearned, it's time to lay off another batch of older, loyal employees I guess.

      Maybe HP's losing seasoned talent explains why their laptops have sucked for a decade or more now..

    2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: Hewlett-Packard is now Agilent

      The good bit of Agilent, that makes test & measurement gear, became Keysight Technologies two years ago.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    2.6 years until retirement

    You young-uns are welcome to the clusterf*ck that is modern business these days.

    The HR department is run (badly) by children these days.

  10. joeldillon

    I'm pretty sure 'effectuate' isn't a word, even for Americans. Perhaps just effect?

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "'m pretty sure 'effectuate' isn't a word, even for Americans. Perhaps just effect?"

      The more syllables (hyperpolysyllabic?) the better for USians it seems.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > I'm pretty sure 'effectuate' isn't a word, even for Americans. Perhaps just effect?

      It actually is a word, both technically and in the popular sense. It is a more formal synonym of the verb "effect".

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pretty accurate so far

    Soon-to-be-former HPE here; can confirm the WFR tsunami in my grouo took everyone over 40. Still plenty of room to hire nitwits from Symantec, though -- ahh, Symantec, the Grey Goo of tech companies -- and to pick up more HR and marketing "talent." (The strip clubs and barista shacks of San Francisco must look like ghost towns at this point.) And no, I've no expectation of seeing a cent off the suit, since this is all very clearly the board prepping for "merger" and attendant legal shenanigans. Dave and Bill must spin like turbines in their graves; if we'd had the foresight to bury 'em vertically they'd doubtless have tunneled to China by now.

  12. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    "death spiral" of companies...

    ...should be interesting watching how a busload of old fart sysadmins take on a building full of sysadmin rookies... and pwn them utterly...

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I think that the fact that hiring is essentially a crap-shoot makes HR bods incline to superstition, whether it be psychometric tests, graphology or horoscopes...

    That aside, old people are generally more expensive (or so I'm led to believe), so it would make sense for bean counters to hit there first.

    The problem is that it will probably be too late when they realise that the old people were more expensive for a reason...

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "hiring is essentially a crap-shoot"

      Especially when you ignore the candidate's experience.

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