Google age-discrimination lawsuit could grow

An age-discrimination lawsuit filed by two people who interviewed unsuccessfully for jobs at Google could expand to encompass other individuals if a motion filed this week is successful.

The motion for conditional certification of collective action status was filed in a San Jose federal court Wednesday. Computerworld reports that the motion, which is similar to a class action, aims to include “all individuals who interviewed in-person for any software engineer, site reliability engineer, or systems engineer position with Google in the United States in the time period from August 13, 2010 through the present; were age 40 or older at the time of interview; and were refused employment by Google.”

The motion seeks to make the case “opt-in”, giving other parties the option to join an age-discrimination lawsuit filed against Google last year.

The anti-discrimination suit was filed last year by Robert Heath and alleges that Google “engaged in a systematic pattern and practice of discriminating against individuals (including Mr. Heath) who are age 40 and older in hiring, compensation, and other employment decisions.”


In February 2011 Google did not hire Heath, who was then 60, for a software engineer position he had applied and interviewed for, according to the suit. “Heath had highly-pertinent qualifications and experience, and a Google recruiter even deemed him a ‘great candidate’,” it added. Heath had a “technical phone interview” with Google for the role.

Last year programmer Cheryl Fillekes joined Heath’s suit. Fillekes, who is in her 50s, was invited for in-person Google interviews on four separate occasions but was not hired for any of the positions.

Fillekes, who filed this week’s motion, has a doctoral degree in computational geophysics from the University of Chicago and has undertaken postdoctoral work at Harvard.

Washington D.C.-based law firm Kotchen & Low is representing Fillekes in the case. “We think that there are a whole host of folks who are qualified and did not receive a position at Google because of their age,” Daniel Kotchen, a partner at the law firm, told

If the court approves the motion filed this week, Google would be required to provide names and contact details for every applicant over 40 who had in-person interviews for software engineer, site reliability engineer or systems engineer jobs. The individuals would then be contacted and given the option to join the lawsuit, according to Kotchen.

Fillekes’ motion identifies a number of other job applicants by initials, Computerworld reports.

The motion will be heard in court on Nov. 10.

Citing data from compensation research specialist Payscale, Heath’s lawsuit claims that in 2013 the median age for a Google employee was 29.

Heath is represented by San Francisco law firm Smith Patten. Dow Patten, a partner at the firm, told from that Heath is seeking to join the motion for conditional certification, with a change to its scope. "It will expand the scope beyond those that were screened out during in-person interviews to include those who were screened out during telephonic technical interviews," he said.

Heath's initial lawsuit will go to trial in July 2017.

The median age for a computer programmer in the U.S. is 43, according to 2015 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

A Google spokeswoman told that the company doesn’t comment on pending litigation.

This is not the first time that a Silicon Valley heavweight has been accused of age discrimination.

In 2011 an age discrimination lawsuit filed by former Google executive Brian Reid was settled for undisclosed damages.

Former Twitter employee Peter Taylor filed a lawsuit against the San Francisco-based firm in 2014, alleging that he was fired for being too old. The case was settled last year.

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