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California’s Silicon Valley age discrimination culture

Many businesses in the United States have workforces that are not balanced in regards to gender. In some, women are underrepresented and in others, men are underrepresented. Sometimes such under-representation can result in discrimination claims.

Correspondingly, major companies are under increasing pressure to release data about their workforces so the demographics can be known. Google, after talks with Rev. Jesse Jackson and others, made data about the ethnic and gender makeup of their workforce public. That data showed that the company is 70 percent men and 30 percent women. It is also 61 percent White and 30 percent Asian, along with 3 percent Hispanic and 2 percent African American.

Google did not release information about the ages of the workforce. Observers say that in the high technology industry of Silicon Valley, ageism is rampant. Many view it as a youth culture, and some observers worry that companies may view themselves as being exempt from California and federal age discrimination laws.

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act provides protection against age discrimination in firing and hiring practices at the state level. At federal level, those protections are covered by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which dates back to 1967. Despite those laws, employers often focus their diversification efforts on sex and gender.

That can result in legal suits. For example, Google settled an age discrimination case that was brought by a man fired at age 54. The man has a PhD in computer science and is a former professor. Although neither he nor Google will discuss the case, it may be a light on the youth culture of high technology companies, since the man’s suit alleged age-related derogatory comments. Those who believe they are facing age-related discrimination may want to consider the advice of an attorney who is experienced in this area.

Source: Reuters, “Silicon Valley’s ageist culture is bad for workers – and business” Mark Miller, Jun. 05, 2014

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