- Google has agreed to pay $11 million to settle allegations from a class of 227 plaintiffs that it engaged in a systematic pattern or practice of age discrimination (Heath v. Google LLC, No. 15-cv-01824 (N.D. California July 19, 2019)).
- Google allegedly discriminated against applicants age 40 and over, in violation of the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), for three positions across the U.S.: site reliability engineer, software engineer and systems engineer. Google disputes the existence of any intentional age discrimination.
- The settlement also requires Google to train employees and managers about age bias, create a recruiting subcommittee that will focus on age diversity for the relevant positions, ensure that its marketing collateral reflects age diversity, adequately investigate any age bias complaints relating to the relevant positions and survey departing employees about potential discrimination.
As this settlement illustrates, even very large employers are not immune to age bias claims.
The ADEA protects workers ages 40 and above and bars age discrimination and harassment in all aspects of employment — including hiring, firing, pay, assignments, promotions, layoffs, training, benefits and all other terms and conditions of employment, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The law is fairly simple, experts have told HR Dive, and it's been around since 1967, but age discrimination at work remains problematic. In fact, some experts have called it an "open secret." Employers often engage in biased conduct that may not be intended to discriminate on the basis of age, such as recruiting primarily or solely at college campuses or writing job descriptions that include potentially age-linked terms like "digital native."
Of course, sometimes age bias is more overt, as in the case of a Pennsylvania dental practice that allegedly fired eight of nine dental hygienists above the age of 40 at a single location and replaced them with 14 new employees, 13 of whom were under age 40.
Age bias allegations may climb as employees stay in the workforce longer than ever before. Many older workers are healthy and simply want to work longer than previous generations, while others are forced to stay in the workforce due to high healthcare costs or inadequate retirement savings.