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Google Ends Age-Discrimination Suit with $11 Million Settlement

A group of business people sitting in a row.

​Google has agreed to pay $11 million to end a class-action lawsuit involving 227 people accusing the company of systemically discriminating against job applicants who were over the age of 40. Under the final settlement agreement, presented to a federal judge July 19, plaintiffs will collect an estimated $35,000 each.

Under the settlement, parent company Alphabet Inc. must also train employees and managers about age bias, create a committee on age diversity in recruiting and make sure complaints are adequately investigated.

The initial plaintiff was a software engineer who said Google interviewed her four times, from 2007-2014, beginning when she was 47. She was never hired, according to Forbes. She accused the company of hiring younger workers based on cultural fit.

Google has said she and the other plaintiffs did not demonstrate the required technical aptitude, denied it intentionally discriminated against them because of their age and said that it has strong policies against discrimination, Bloomberg News reported. 

Despite employers saying it is increasingly hard to find experienced talent in the current marketplace—it was at a 49-year low of 3.6 percent until rising to 3.7 percent in June—qualified older workers often find it difficult to land job interviews and get hired. 

SHRM Online has collected the following articles on this topic from its archives and other trusted news sources.

Retail, Health Care, Energy, Tech: Age Discrimination Allegations Continue

Retailers Anthropologie and GNC were both defeated in recent age-discrimination rulings. But retail is not the only industry being hit with age-related allegations. Across the board, complaints are on the rise.

According to a 2018 AARP study, 61 percent  of respondents over  age  45 reported seeing or experiencing age-based discrimination in the workplace, and 38 percent of those believe the practice is very common. Older women, people who are black, Hispanic, and those who are unemployed were more likely to feel they were the subject of discrimination.

More Than Half of Boomer Job Seekers Say They've Faced Age Discrimination, and It's Costing Them Work 

Baby Boomers say age discrimination is holding them back from getting a job. Around 53 percent of Baby Boomers say they've  felt an employer has discriminated against them due to their age, according to a survey by the job-listing site iHire. The survey is part of a larger report on the state of hiring for Boomers.

Additionally, 70 percent of Boomers who feel over qualified for their jobs say they have experienced age discrimination, while 45 percent say their generation is unfairly stereotyped by today's employers, according to the survey.
(Business Insider

[SHRM members-only resources and tools: Ageism]  

A Problematic Trend: 11% of Employees Have Experienced Ageism on the Job 

Although age discrimination is  illegal, employers still manage to get away with it. In fact, 11 percent of Americans over age 45 think their age has caused either a past or current employer to treat them unfairly, according to a survey by GOBankingRates.

And it can take different forms and start at any time, although most people agree that ageism begins when workers reach their 50s, the survey found.  It can prevent people from being hired and lead to demotions or firings without cause. But there are some steps people can take to fight ageism.
(USA Today

3 Million Older Americans Can't Find High-Paying Jobs, and It Has Nothing To Do with Skills. 

Older workers, aged 55 and over, represent the fastest growing labor group in the US. By 2024, nearly 1 in 4 people in the labor force will be age 55 or over, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

There are 3 million older adults looking for full-time employment, said Emily Allen, senior vice president for programs at AARP. Many people seeking full-time work might be part-time, or in low-wage jobs with limited growth opportunities. However, some say the biggest barrier to job entry for older workers isn't a lack of skills: it's ageism.

(Business Insider)

New Evidence of Age Bias in Hiring, and a Push to Fight It

The problem of age bias is getting more scrutiny after revelations that hundreds of employers shut out middle-aged and older Americans in their recruiting on Facebook, LinkedIn and other platforms. Those disclosures are supercharging a wave of litigation.
But as cases make their way to court, the legal road for proving age discrimination, while always difficult, has only roughened. Recent decisions by federal appeals courts in Chicago and Atlanta have limited the reach of anti-discrimination protections and made it even harder for job applicants to win.
(New York Times)  

Checklist for Creating an Age-Inclusive Workforce 

There are many ways organizations can create a workplace that welcomes people of all ages. Strategies include reviewing job descriptions and recruiting materials for age-biased language, adding age-inclusive language to your diversity and inclusion strategies and making age a part of your diversity and inclusion training.
(SHRM Online)

Age Discrimination 

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act forbids discrimination against people who are age 40 or older. It does not protect workers under the age of 40, although some states have laws that protect younger workers from age discrimination. It is not illegal for an employer or other covered entity to favor an older worker over a younger one, even if both workers are age 40 or older. 


​An organization run by AI is not a futuristic concept. Such technology is already a part of many workplaces and will continue to shape the labor market and HR. Here's how employers and employees can successfully manage generative AI and other AI-powered systems.