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Google Settles Age-Bias Lawsuit

By Lisa M. Schaffer, Esq. on October 09, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Google recently settled an age discrimination lawsuit originally filed back in 2015, and later certified as a class action in 2016. Though details of the settlement are undisclosed, it appears the number of plaintiffs represented in the suit ranges from 231 to 238, and are aged 40 and older. The suit was seeking monetary and non-monetary relief. The parties have yet to settle the non-monetary relief, but according to plaintiffs' attorney, Daniel Low, "the monetary component will encourage Google and others to look at their hiring practices in terms of older workers."

What Exactly Is Googleyness?

According to plaintiffs, Google violates the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act by hiring younger workers. In court documents, one plaintiff claims that a recruiter told her that she had to put her graduation date on her resume so that Google could determine her age, which is a clear violation of federal law.

Plaintiffs allege that "Googleyness" is an internal code word for "young," though Google denies this and claims it has to do with a host of intangible factors, including ability to challenge the status quo, accept difficult feedback, and work in a team. Google claimed that it is against the company handbook to discriminate based on age, but the judge saw through this, stating every company today should be well-versed enough in employment law to include anti-discrimination language in its handbook. The judge was more interested in actions that words.

Google Needs to Walk It Like It Writes It

One would think that Google would have learned the hard way to avoid age discrimination. Back in 2004, Google was sued in an age discrimination case that eventually settled out of court for an undisclosed amount. Perhaps that led to the change in the handbook, but not the playbook. Google did try twice to get the class action de-certified, but the judge refused to comply.

In an interesting side note, the Department of Labor has investigated Google, and said that the company engaged in "extreme" age discrimination. Perhaps Google figured it was time to settle. After all, nothing gives you a clean slate like paying a settlement!

If you believe you have been the victim of employment discrimination, whether based on age, gender, race, or sexual orientation, contact a discrimination lawyer. The law protects certain classes of workers for good reason. A trained attorney can listen to the facts of your case, and help you determine if you have a case or if there is a current class action you can join.

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