back to article Google 'screwed over' its non-millennials – now they can all fight back

Google has been hit with a class-action lawsuit accusing the ad giant of discriminating against older employees. The Northern California District Court has certified [PDF] the case brought against the Chocolate Factory, allowing aggrieved applicants aged 40 and older to join together in filing a single suit. By certifying the …

  1. Frank N. Stein

    Hmmm....

    Meanwhile, all the dinosaurs are at IBM.

    1. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Hmmm....

      And all of the sociopaths are at Facebook pretending they understand friendship.

    2. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

      Re: Hmmm....

      You mean the dinosaurs at IBM who came up with Deep Blue, Watson, POWER Linux and all those other trailing edge technologies?

    3. Dagg

      Re: Hmmm....

      No IBM has methods to get rid of you from there as well.... Been there have the scars!

    4. boltar Silver badge

      Re: Hmmm....

      "Meanwhile, all the dinosaurs are at IBM."

      Yes, and coming up with stuff like Watson thats a damn site more technically impressive than any polar necked beared hipsters at more trendy corps or startups are managing. Even Googles AI technical abilities seem to have floundered producing a self driving car that even Mickey Mouse would be embarrased to be seen in.

  2. Gashead

    Was rather amazed to get a new job with a financial software company implementing solutions at the ripe old age of 59.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      implementing solutions at the ripe old age of 59.

      Got my current job at age 61 - but I'm not in California.

      And still getting offers to leave - not from my company, from others.

  3. phillr

    Not very inventive on Google's part. There are plenty of ways to legally discriminate against older applicants; they just take a little more work.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Interview questions matter

      I think the article says quite clearly they have not been found guilty of doing anything illegal.

      However, I would argue that interviewing every engineer candidate on red-black trees and topcoder-style algorithms, without asking a single question about past experience, is probably sufficient to skew the age of the hiring. They barely ask design questions.

      I don't think they offer a lot of senior positions, either. Unless you're a known rock star in your field, you start as coding peon, no matter your age. That also discourages experimented people.

      1. boltar Silver badge

        Re: Interview questions matter

        "I think the article says quite clearly they have not been found guilty of doing anything illegal."

        I'm a bit torn on this even if they had. On the one hand I'm middle aged now and probably have already or soon will lose out on a job to some younger guy simply due to age. OTOH I know perfectly well that when I was a baby coder fresh out of uni I was only hired because I was young and hence cheap plus I could be trained up in the Way Of The Company more easily that an older guy who'd be more set in his ways. So I suppose what goes around...

  4. s. pam
    Paris Hilton

    In californicate

    If you're not suing you must be shagging

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: In californicate

      I know which I'd rather, but I guess I'd settle for the other.

      Anything to make the time go by...

    2. Velv Silver badge
      Childcatcher

      Re: In californicate

      Either way you're screwed

  5. dvd

    How's that not being evil thing going, guys?

  6. K

    "We believe the allegations here are without merit.."

    After which the dummy was reinserted and he cried for his bottle!

  7. Martin Summers Silver badge

    Probably not the best idea to have participated in a certain movie called 'The Internship' after all eh Google?

  8. Number6

    You need at least one grey-haired engineer on the staff, it's cheaper than gaining the equivalent experience by making the same mistakes he did when he was your age. He might not have all the answers, but you can be sure he knows a lot of the right questions to ask.

    1. Ole Juul
      Joke

      Google may be thinking about the average age of employees, perhaps hoping that having Vint Serf on staff is all it takes.

    2. bazza Silver badge

      As well as having some of us older types on the staff, the investors need to talk to them and listen to what they say.

      A lot of what we see is happening because investors become convinced some mad scheme is plausible, and then it's merely a case of assembling the right team to get it done ASAP before anyone else. And because the older more experienced staff are sucking their teeth muttering about how hard this is going to be, they’re off message and 'a barrier to progress'. Bye bye.

      And so the team is reduced in experience until there's only youngsters left who don't know any better; they're all yes men/boys (another of Si Valley's problems is a gender bias...), and they'll recruit only those who are also on-message.

      Look at Google's self driving car project. According to CA's published test results it's way off being reality, and probably won't ever happen. It's unsurprising that there's reports of discord in the (exclusively young?) team - they've just been taught a lesson by mother nature and they have no idea what to do next. Yet anyone who's ever read or studied anything at all about safety critical systems, machine vision and cognition could tell you that a self-driver is going to be really, really hard, probably impossible, don't waste your money.

      So if your an investor, if your engineering team doesn't have grey haired / no haired / grey bearded staff members, worry about whether you'll see a return. They've either decided to quit before its too late, or are being kept out of the project for being off-message. A single 'no it won't work' from an engineer who knows their stuff could save you billions, and they can't say that if they're not there. No amount of positivity from an exciting bunch of youngsters is going to fool mother nature.

    3. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      It's not grey hair

      It's distinguished maturity.

    4. dl1
      1. Number6

        The balance is being steadily redressed (I see quite a few younger female engineers now), but in the group of engineers with lots of visible grey hair, women are still a small minority.

  9. Your alien overlord - fear me

    "strong policies against discrimination on any unlawful basis" - so I Googled for discrimination on any lawful basis and it seems only their lawyers can be over 40. I wonder why?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The youthful white and Asian monoculture

    Under the watchful eyes of those who preach diversity as if their lives depend on it. Not exactly the only contradiction in the strange world of Google, Facebook and friends,

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: The youthful white and Asian monoculture

      "Not exactly the only contradiction in the strange world of Google, Facebook and friends,"

      Ageism is not just the only Politically Correct ism, it's Politically Mandatory.

      1. onefang

        Re: The youthful white and Asian monoculture

        I think there's a few more, they are just really small minorities that no one has heard about, thus are safe to discriminate against. I fall into a few of those, which is why I'm currently unemployed and poor, despite being very talented and experienced. Oh, and I'm on the wrong side of 50 as well.

        On the plus side, I'm now old enough that Google headhunters no longer call me.

    2. Ashley_Pomeroy

      Re: The youthful white and Asian monoculture

      There's a photo of the editorial board of The Huffington Post going the rounds. It shows a large table staffed entirely with white women (and one asian woman), each of them with a MacBook Air.

      But of course they don't need to be taught about diversity because, being white, they're smart enough to screen out any impure thoughts.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Code words

    The code word at HP et. al. was "early career".

  12. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    Recruiters demand you have experience.... and yet also refuse to take on people who are old enough to have experience. The world is eating itself.

    1. Naselus

      Simple recruitment checklist:

      * The candidate must be exactly 30. Older than this means he is past it and will probably retire in the next ten minutes or so. Less than this means he is too wet behind the ears and clearly won't know what he is doing. Even if his 30th birthday is in three weeks, or his 31st birthday was only a month ago.

      * He will have finished your degree at 22, so he should therefore have exactly 8 years of experience. Less than this is not enough for any job ever. More than this either means no degree (so automatically unqualified for literally anything aside from feeding the chickens) or everything he has ever learned is obsolete due to his extremely advanced age.

      * He must have shipped at least 3 commercial products, from design through to post-production support. Given the 8 years experience requirement, that means every project must last no longer than 2 1/2 years. Anything which takes longer than this, regardless of scale, is therefore wasted time, and so sensible people produce only useless smartphone apps with titles like 'Find My Pig'.

      * Staying at any workplace longer than 3 years is evidence that the candidate is unambitious and lazy, presumably just drifting from paycheck to paycheck.

      * Staying at any workplace for less than 18 months is evidence that he is feckless, incompetent, flaky and probably a criminal.

      * All certifications are good, have identical implications, and can be obtained at any point in your life without any regard for the requirements they list. For example, asking an entry-level junior network engineer if he has a CISSP is fine. Putting forward a candidate for Senior Linux Network Architect based on his MCP in Windows Vista is also fine. Always ask for PRINCE2 for literally everything; every job in the whole world benefits from PRINCE2 certification. You're doing great, no-one suspects you know nothing about technology and only became a recruitment consultant because your English Lit degree left you completely ill-equipped for the modern workplace.

      * All this computer crap is exactly the same. There's no difference between a programmer and a hardware engineer; they're all nerds, right? And nerds are good with computers, so they can do any job involving a computer. Java developers love being offered 50 helpdesk positions a day. Systems engineers are basically the same thing as DBAs, there's lots of crossover. Your candidates will love you for the variety of job adverts you are throwing their way, and the workplaces offering the jobs clearly prefer being swamped by huge numbers of manifestly unqualified applicants, so long as they're 30 years old with 8 years of experience doing something or other computery.

      1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        I've been forwarded vacancies for mammography operators and what turned out to be sticking cable TV boxes in customers homes "In-Home Connectivity Expert" ! Well, it's all tech innit.

  13. Craig100

    Explains why the likes of MS et al. take backward steps all the time. It's just like all the people that learned from previous mistakes have left without passing it on. Funny that. What's that about those who don't learn from history being bound to repeat it?

    1. 's water music Silver badge

      doomed to repeat

      Explains why the likes of MS et al. take backward steps all the time. It's just like all the people that learned from previous mistakes have left without passing it on. Funny that. What's that about those who don't learn from history being bound to repeat it?

      If I were MS I would take being able to repeat my history as a massive win

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It might not be age discrimination but there's no way out of this bad situation.

    It's extremely difficult to work at Google if you have any experience in the real world. Very complex tasks may be easy but the numerous easy tasks are nearly impossible. "The Google Way" has become a symbol of bureaucracy and inefficiency. Only the most inexperienced hires can work there without realizing how much time they're wasting on things that have no reason to exist. Proving that older workers aren't a good fit would require proving how naive employees must be to work at Google.

  15. Dagg
    Windows

    Age and treachery

    Will always over come youth and beauty. The icon says it all <G>

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Facepalm

    Crimes listed:

    Discernment

    (characterised as failure to whoop, say "I'm excited" and "sick" to every half thought out concept)

    Realism

    (characterised by suggesting deadlines that reflect changes to be accomplished in the physical world not purely in cloud concepts)

    Consistency

    (seeing the baby as somehow more valuable than the bathwater when it comes to graphical interfaces)

    Guilty on all counts, probably over 40, no prospect of remorse or rehabilitation to post-millennial values.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A lot of unoriginal comments

    I can tell by the bitter and borderline idiotic comments that there is truth to what they say about Tory/Ukip/breixter age-groups. Clearly its all the fault of political correctness yada yada. I have hundreds of rejection letters in my inbox, including a couple from Google too if that matters. But keep up your irrational hatred of self driving cards, macbooks and women. It suits you.

    1. lukewarmdog

      Re: A lot of unoriginal comments

      What do they say about the Tory/Ukip/Brexiter age groups?

      You've just encompassed most of the voting population of the UK so I'm really unclear what you'd say about all those people that would make any actual sense.

      1. Peter2 Silver badge

        Re: A lot of unoriginal comments

        I think he's clumsily trying to restate the old adage that "If a man is not a socialist by the time he is 20, he has no heart. If he is not a conservative by the time he is 40, he has no brain".

  18. Unicornpiss Silver badge
    Alert

    It's a pity...

    While there are certainly enough crusty older people that are jaded and don't know their left from their right mouse button, there are also plenty with a wealth of experience and that are still very sharp.

    Older workers may not always think quite as quick as a 20-something, but they're also likely to stop and reconsider before making a truly bonehead mistake, and they're certainly less flaky and flighty, and overall more reliable. Older people, especially engineers, have made all their mistakes before and are less likely to repeat them.

    I would pretty much pick an older worker to design a UI any day before a youngster with no experience but plenty of "innovative ideas!"

    1. Peter2 Silver badge

      Re: It's a pity...

      I recall one evening a branch office was broken into and all of the computer equipment was cleared out. We had to provide serial numbers etc of all of the equipment for the obvious reasons.

      Now, the asset register for this company didn't note where equipment was deployed, so there was a discussion between several (most) of the second line engineers as to how to get that information. An irate ~70 year old stormed out of his office, and told them he was fed up with this discussion outside his office.

      When they then started to apologise and find somewhere else to have the discussion, he told them that it was quite alright, but go and do some useful work instead of chatting. And he gave them a printed list of all of the network attached assets on site (the hostnames were the asset numbers) and suggested that they cross reference against the asset register for the serial numbers.

      Dead silence. Nobody expected that from the department's official old guy, who management hadn't yet forced to retire. Many a younger worker did some quiet re-evaluating about if the older workers were good for more than stories about the old days.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Chocolate factory prefers Oompa Loompas who are happy living in a van in the parking lot and eating free Odwala bars for dinner. This isn't new news.

    1. onefang

      Which is the main reason I turn down Google every time they want to hire me.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dear Register

    Why is it so many board members are old farts yet you are fucked if over 50 (or even less) for any other role ?

    Yours insincerely.

    Eric Emerson Schmidt, aged 61

  21. Erik4872

    The industry has to grow up

    I'm over the hill at 41 now, and work like crazy to differentiate myself from the stereotypical older IT worker. Unfortunately, companies lump everyone in together and assume that everyone is crusty, set in their ways and won't learn anything new. I'm in systems engineering, and our field is going nuts right now with software-defined everything, public clouds, etc...and I'm going along with it, learning everything I can and seeing where the dust will settle after the second dotcom/social media bubble bursts. There are plenty of older folks saying "oh, this Docker stuff will never take off" and "the company will never move to a public cloud." Let's just say I'm not betting on either of those coming true -- I'm hedging.

    There are some enlightened places out there that value experience, but Silicon Valley employers are generally not in this group. Microsoft skews older, which is good, but it's still very hard convincing a 28 year old team lead (or worse, a 28 year old MBA with no experience appointed to a manager spot) that you're worth taking a chance on. The reason I think this lawsuit is a good thing is that, for better or worse, Google and GE seem to have the most slavishly copied HR policies in the world. Every company has an open plan office because of Google. Many companies experiment with stack ranking because of GE. If these companies have to change their behavior towards older workers even slightly, the rest of the HR managers will note the change and immediately implement it verbatim.

  22. 2Fat2Bald

    It just doesn't make sense.

    Older employees tend to have more experience. I'm not talking about knowing ancient, irrelevant technologies, I'm talking about knowing people, logical processes, unrelated but reusable concepts and ideas etc etc. I'm not ragging on the younger guys & gals, who tend to have a little more energy and optimism.

    But, yeah, there is an impression that people over 40ish are getting more useless by the day, and I think it's very probably a self-fulfilling prophesy.

  23. Gigabob

    Hitting 40 at Google is much like...

    being black in America.

    As FB and GOOG age, their ageism is quite blatant vs when they were younger and sought advice and direction from many experienced sources. Guess they so good they don't needs no hep.

    Good luck as they try to penetrate and transform transportation and other industries without contacts in government and experience in manufacturing and regulatory processes that has eluded them so far.

  24. gort

    Haha that stock photo is awesome

    I'M STRAIGHTENING YOUR TIE YOU OLD FART!

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