Google Settles Ageism Lawsuit with Job Hunters for $11 Million

Google has agreed to pay out $11 million to 227 job applicants who allege the search-engine giant discriminated against them because of ageism.

That comes to roughly $35,000 per applicant, which is far less than they would have made as even an entry-level software engineer. Google, which continues to deny the lawsuit’s allegations of ageism, has insisted that the applicants didn’t meet the jobs’ technical requirements. Nonetheless, the company will have to follow the terms of the agreement, which include setting up a committee to address age issues in tech recruiting, as well as training for employees and managers about age bias.

“Age discrimination is an issue that needs to be addressed in the tech industry, and we’re very pleased that we were able to obtain a fair settlement for our clients in this case,” Daniel Low, a lawyer for one of the job-seekers, wrote in an email to Bloomberg.

But this isn’t just a Google-centric issue. In June, Hired demonstrated that tech professionals’ earnings level off after age 40. And that report, in turn, echoed a 2018 survey from First Round Capital that showed startup founders believing that ageism in tech starts to kick in around age 36 (which aligns with the age that Hired’s data shows salary expectations and offers starting to go in opposite directions). 

Last year, responding to the Dice Diversity and Inclusion Survey, tech professionals told us that they feel ageism is prevalent in the industry: 29 percent of respondents reported “experiencing or witnessing” age-based discrimination in the workplace, which outpaced gender discrimination (21 percent), political-affiliation discrimination (11 percent), and bias based on sexual orientation (six percent).

“The survey found those in their late 40s (ages 46 through 49, specifically) were particularly affected,” the note accompanying our survey added. “Of this group, a staggering 80 percent say they’re concerned their age (and ageism attitudes) will affect their careers.”

Many older workers don’t need a report or survey to see that things are often grim. A recent ProPublica report found that professionals over 50 were often forced out of their position, and faced longer layoffs. Even if they find new positions, only ten percent earn as much as they did before losing their initial high-paying job (all of which may contribute to lowered expectations). It’s hard out there, but sometimes a lawsuit does attempt to adjust the scales a bit.

12 Responses to “Google Settles Ageism Lawsuit with Job Hunters for $11 Million”

  1. Gayle Hall

    Age discrimination is an absolute fact of life in the IT industry. Proving it is a huge hurdle, though everyone knows it exists. I’m so pleased to see that Google was financially chastised by the courts for their discriminatory practices. This needs to happen more often.

  2. Ageism is in many areas, not just IT. I’m dealing with it in IT as I just hit 50 a few months ago and I keep getting the “too qualified” line. My wife is dealing with it to in a very non-IT field as her company gets rid of any non-executive who is over 45 and calls it a “reorganization.”

  3. Crack Monkey

    For Google to claim there is no Age Discrimination just proves that this company will lie about anything. Look in any Google office. There is not a single person over 40 unless he/she is part of the original executive staff. Google doesn’t hire people over 40 and when they claim the individuals did not meet the job requirements well of course they didn’t because the job requires someone under 30 so no older person would ever qualify despite being more experienced and probably much more intelligent.

  4. Andreas Falkenberg

    Well I do not know if it is ageism. I would go more for a slightly different explanation (which certainly correlates). If you are the most experienced in the room during an interview, you most likely won’t get the job. Hiring managers fear that you can outshine them and kick them off their little throne. It is very very easy to “prove” that someone is not qualified, just ask any random question and then say “well that is not what I meant” which brings the interviewee out of his thought process immediately and he starts to struggle. Invent terms, use abbreviations a lot when you interview someone, the best are house intern abbreviations. Take a problem you just yesterday solved (maybe struggled a week with it or so) and present that as a question and then say “well obviously this is a better solution”, which brings the confidence down. Or just invent arguments. Well yes he is good in Java so I believe he can not be good in C++ (well maybe you did not ask in the first place). Don’t ever believe an older guy that he is still hands-on … he must be lying. Oh he is still hands-on in that age he should be a manager by now. Oh he has several papers or patents … tough luck to academic. Oh he has no papers or patents … well he never proved his accomplishments. He worked in that area for too long so probably takes too long to get him up and running in our technology. You can always always prove that someone is not a good fit.

    • Ageism is definitely alive. I have been speaking with recruiters for job postings. $rate to $rate. Recruiters suggesting going in at lower than the posted income rates. That is crazy. At the least I should earn the lower posted income, not even less than that.

  5. Lady E

    Wow, very interesting how society treats older people. Is actually very sad. We as a species will always struggle to grow as people because we only think about the greed of ourselves and not try to work together as a collective everyone, young and old to advance our society further. It’s always young against old, rich against poor, white against black, brown, yellow, and red people, atheist against religious, straight against gay it’s so sickening. When will we wake up.

  6. The Walking Dead

    This article is exactly on point. I have personally experienced all of this in my waning 35 yr IT career. These tactics started many years ago.
    I loved learning new tech/languages, writing code, and doing systems analysis, design, and architecture throughout my career. I’m a big believer in continuous learning. But, staying focused on technology is a big mistake over the long term because of ageism combined with the economies of scale provided by outsourcing IT work anywhere in the world.
    It’s too late for me, but I would strongly recommend to all 30-40 year old IT professionals out there who want to stay in IT…get project management skills and PM certification, or if the opportunity becomes available, take the management career path. Looking back, I wish I did.
    Good luck!

  7. Mark Winn

    Was wondering if Google as part of the settlement is required to change its hiring process and or change its age quotas?
    Or is it business as usual!
    Did the squash the case documents?

  8. Great! Today it’s Google (average employee age is 30). Tomorrow AOL (avg empl age is 27) needs to get nailed. Then it needs to be Facebook (avg empl age is 28). Then keep going — LinkedIn (29), Salesforce (29), Apple (31), Amazon (31), Yahoo (31). This list goes on and on.

    • Do you have the high end average for tech companies. It would be good to publish that and promote support of those companies. Making companies that do not exhibit questionable ageism behaviors is the only true action that can be taken.

  9. Frank Underdown

    How can you get in on this lawsuit? I have applied to these companies mentioned in this article several times, for jobs I am very qualified to do, without hearing back from them.