- Intel Corp. is under investigation for allegedly targeting older workers in a three-year series of layoffs, reports the Wall Street Journal. The Seattle office of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is looking into whether the 10,000 global job cuts the company made discriminated against employees based on age, in violation of the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), according to documents the Journal reviewed.
- In one May 2016 reduction in force, Intel laid off 2,300 employees. The median age of those affected was 49, or seven years older than the employees who remained on staff, according to the documents. Many of the U.S. layoffs occurred in Oregon, where Intel is one of the largest employers.
- In a statement from an Intel spokesperson, the company denied that age, race, national origin, gender, immigration status or other personal demographics were factors in its layoff decisions. The company’s intent instead was to "fuel Intel’s evolution" from being a PC industry supplier to being a maker of processors that power the cloud and devices connected to it.
Ageism, particularly in the tech space, has been the center of a number of EEOC complaints recently, despite the ADEA turning 50 years old this year. The EEOC receives about 20,000 age bias complaints a year, and the agency says it is vigorously enforcing the law.
Intel is hardly alone among its tech peers for fielding ageism complaints. IBM, for example, allegedly skirted the ADEA with a creative arbitration agreement. The law generally requires that employers provide protected workers being laid off with the ages of any others involved in reduction in force. The company ended that practice but also removed "age" from the list of potential bias claims workers were waiving in return for severance pay, according to documents obtained by ProPublica. Instead, it required them to agree to arbitration for such claims. Some, like a former EEOC official, told ProPublica that the move appears to undercut the ADEA.
Avoiding age bias can begin with job postings. Removing words or phrases from job ads that suggest an employer wants only young workers to apply, such as "energetic" and "fast-paced environment," can go a long way toward creating a diverse slate of candidates. But efforts can't stop there; to root out discrimination, employers may need to adopt diversity and inclusion initiatives throughout the process, and that includes training front-line managers on their responsibilities under the law.