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Does Google have an age discrimination problem?

Does Google have an age discrimination problem?
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Google and the technology industry more broadly have been accused of age discrimination, and the government is starting to take notice. 

Late last month, a person suing Google over age discrimination urged a federal court in California to expand the lawsuit to let anyone join who is over the age of 40 and was interviewed by Google for an engineering job but was denied employment going back to 2010.

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The motion claims that the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has received multiple complaints about age discrimination against Google, and the regulator is conducting an “extensive investigation” into the tech giant’s employment practices. 

The Mercury News first highlighted the investigation on Wednesday.

That accusation is based on Google’s own filing last July, which went mostly unnoticed. The search giant admitted that the EEOC was conducting an investigation and said it had cooperated with the probe. It was unclear if the investigation Google mentioned back then was ongoing. 

Usually, anyone who wants to file an employment discrimination lawsuit must first file a complaint with the EEOC, which is tasked with investigating the charge. The agency usually closes its investigation before individuals can file their own lawsuit.

Regulators don’t comment on investigations, but the EEOC recently acknowledged older people are underrepresented in the tech industry. 

In May, the EEOC published a study highlighting some “concerning” employment levels of African-Americans, Hispanics and women in the industry. The study noted that its mandatory employment surveys for large companies do not include age or disability statistics. But it said more study is needed.  

“We are aware that both groups are underrepresented in the tech workforce, suggesting the need for research to understand the causes and potential solutions,” according to a footnote in the survey. 

The lawsuit against Google in the Northern District of California was brought by Robert Heath and Cheryl Fillekes. Google previously interviewed both of them for engineering positions but they were passed over for age-related reasons. 

Google has denied the merits of the case and that it discriminated against the two plaintiffs. 

They have accused Google of engaging in a systematic practice of age discrimination. They have self-reported statistics from Payscale.com that show Google employees have a median age of 29. 

Their briefs have heavily cited a previous case in which a former employee, Brian Reid, settled with Google over an age discrimination suit after he was fired shortly before the company went public in 2004.