Old Guy Smacks Google For Age Discrimination

    October 4, 2007
    WebProNews Staff

Google may have thought itself free of Brian Reid and his lawsuit after one court rejected his age discrimination suit, but the appellate court found that rejection was in error.

Old Guy Smacks Google For Age Discrimination
Old Guy Smacks Google For Age Discrimination

The much revered worship of youth and youthfulness at Google has had some real-world consequences. Instead of being rid of Reid, who they fired in April 2004 after nearly two years of service, and his lawsuit, Google received a big setback from the California Sixth District Court of Appeal.

The Central Valley Business Times obtained a copy of the appellate court’s decision in the Reid case. It’s a dynamite 26 pages of reading, and goes all the way up to implicate CEO Eric Schmidt in having a role in pushing Reid out the door (spacing added for clarity):

On October 13, 2004, Rosing removed Reid from the Director of Operations position and removed his responsibilities and reports as Director of Engineering. Rosing’s decision to move Reid into the position and remove the Director of Operations was instigated by Hoelzle.

Although Reid was permitted to retain his title as Director of Engineering, Reid was moved into a new role at Google to develop and implement a new program aimed at retaining engineers by enabling them to obtain a Master’s Degree in Engineering by attending courses taught by Carnegie Melon University Professors at Google.

CEO Schmidt assured Reid that the graduate degree program was important and that the work on it would require another five years. Reid was not given a budget or a staff to support the graduate program.

In Rosing’s response to Schmidt, Rosing expressed concern about the group’s decision regarding Reid’s bonus, stating he was “having second thoughts about the full zero out of the $14K bonus [versus] treating it consistent with all similarly situated performers.”

Rosing instead determined that Reid should receive a bonus of $11,300, in addition to some other suggested terms of a severance agreement, to avoid a “judge concluding we acted harshly . . . .”

A copy of the Court’s decision may be found here. The appellate judges found "Google acted with discriminatory motive such that a factfinder would conclude Google engaged in age discrimination."

Age discrimination in the tech industry has been a given for job seekers for years. Norm Matloff, a computer science professor at UC-Davis, has frequently cited age discrimination within the industry.

Although whispers about Google doing so have been made before, this is the clearest case of documentation suggesting it has been practiced with the approval of the highest levels of Google’s leadership.