Monday, May 24, 2010

Google's Age Bias Problem

In 2002 the then little-known company, Google hired Brian Reid a computer engineer with a Zelig-like Silicon-valley resume.  Reid had worked on Appollo 17, AltaVista (remember them?) and the company that became Adobe Systems.  Two years into his tenure at Google, the 54 year old Reid was fired.  Howard Mintz at the San Jose Mercury reports that the California Supreme Court will now decide whether Reid's age discrimination complaint can be heard by a California jury.  An excerpt from Mintz's story on the case follows:

"[W]ithin two years, Google decided that the 54-year-old Reid was not a 'cultural fit' for the company and fired him, allegedly after co-workers had described him as 'an old man,' 'slow,' 'sluggish' and 'an old fuddy-duddy.' Reid responded with an age discrimination lawsuit blasting Google's 20-something culture for shunning his generation in the workplace.

Now, Reid's long-running legal feud with Google has reached the California Supreme Court, which this week will hear arguments that will determine if the age discrimination allegations will ever be aired to a jury."
Google argues that Reid was not discriminated against based on age and that the language cited by Reid's lawyer in briefs was "stray remarks."   One commentator observes that Reid's age was like 60 or 70 in "internet dog years!"  Think Google has a problem?  I do.

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