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SAN FRANCISCO — A 64-year-old software engineer rejected for a job at Google Inc. is suing the company for age discrimination.
Plaintiffs lawyers with Kotchen & Low in Washington, D.C., claim Google systematically excluded middle-aged and older workers from jobs for which they were well qualified. The lawyers seek to represent a class of job applicants 40 and older who were rejected by Google from August 2010 through the present.
“The end result of Google’s pattern and practice of age discrimination is a workforce with a median age of 29,” the lawyers wrote in a complaint filed Wednesday in the Northern District of California.
That compares to a 2013 median age of 42 for all U.S. workers, and a median age of 41 for software developers, the lawyers wrote, citing U.S. Department of Labor data.
Google did not respond to an email requesting comment.
Named plaintiff Robert Heath was a candidate for a software-engineer position at Google in 2011, when he was 60. His resume listed information-technology experience dating back to 1978, suggesting his age, the lawyers wrote. A Google recruiter emailed Heath about the job, telling him he would be a “great candidate,” and alerting him that Google was embarking on its largest recruiting and hiring campaign in history. The recruiter set up a phone interview for Heath with a Google software engineer, but the interview went poorly, according to the complaint.
The interviewer called 10 minutes late, and was barely fluent in English, the lawyers wrote. He also conducted the interview over a malfunctioning speakerphone, which made it hard for the two parties to communicate. The interviewer cut Heath off while he was answering a question, the lawyers wrote. He tested Heath by asking him to write a program, but then refused to accept the completed work via Google Docs or email. When Heath read his program coding aloud over the phone, it was clear the interviewer didn’t understand what he was reading due to the language barrier and faulty speakerphone, the complaint alleges.
Two days later, the recruiter emailed Heath and told him Google was “not going to be continuing on to the next step in the process.” Heath complained to Google’s human resources department, and a representative agreed the interviewer had acted inappropriately, according to Heath’s lawyers.
“Google intentionally did not allow Mr. Heath to communicate or demonstrate his full technical abilities, and did not have a sincere interest in hiring Mr. Heath,” his lawyers wrote. “Google failed to hire Mr. Heath and other members of the putative class in favor of younger applicants under the age of 40.”
Similar age discrimination claims against Google were the subject of a 2010 California Supreme Court decision. Former Google executive Brian Reid, at the time in his 50s, claimed his co-workers said his opinions and ideas were “obsolete” and “too old to matter,” and called him an “old fuddy-duddy.” The Supreme Court held Reid had presented sufficient evidence to warrant a trial and the case settled for an undisclosed amount.
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