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Was Job Candidate Turned Down Because He Was Too Old?

July 3, 2015 Workplace Discrimination

Google facing lawsuit after taking a pass on older job applicant

It’s a fact that the law protects against age discrimination in hiring under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).

It’s also a fact that, statistically speaking, it becomes harder to get a job after a certain age.

So where’s the disconnect?

Some would argue that many older workers don’t keep up their professional “chops” – which may be a fair point some of the time.

But what about those cases in which an older worker with a killer resume and an in-demand skill set is passed over for someone who’s younger and has less experience? In the technology field, where companies may be eager to snap up the hot, young talent, older tech workers may be increasingly vulnerable to age discrimination.

Let’s take a look at what the law says about age discrimination and then discuss how it may pertain to a recent lawsuit against the tech giant Google.

Federal Protection Against Age Bias

The ADEA bars companies from treating an employee or applicant less favorably because of the person’s age. This legal protection kicks in once a person reaches age 40.

What does this Act cover? Quite a bit. In addition to prohibiting harassment due to age, the ADEA forbids discrimination in any aspect of employment, including:




job assignments




fringe benefits

any other term or condition of employment

It’s also important to note that although the ADEA pertains to people over the age of 40, the Act can still be invoked if a dispute involves two staffers who both meet the age requirement. For example, if a 70-year-old worker is fired and replaced with a 42-year-old, the older staffer may still claim age discrimination.

Baby Boomers Put Out to Pasture

In the current case against Google, a 64-year-old software engineer is suing, alleging that the company didn’t hire him four years ago because of his age.

Robert Heath was invited to apply to Google because he had been deemed to be an “excellent candidate,” according the Google recruiter who contacted him. Heath’s past experience included jobs at IBM, Compaq and General Dynamics.

Heath participated in a phone interview to test his technical skills. Despite his assertion that he answered all of the questions correctly, he was disqualified from the hiring process shortly after the call.

Heath consulted a lawyer, and now he’s suing, claiming that he was passed over due to his age. Heath is also attempting to rally other tech workers who have been subjected to similar treatment. He and his lawyer are working to have the case certified as a class action lawsuit.

Heath’s lawsuit cites a survey from that shows the median age of Google’s employees is 29. According to U.S. government statistics, the median age for U.S. computer programmers is 43.

Epidemic of Unfair Treatment

This is not the first time Google has had to defend itself against age bias. Brian Reid, a former Google executive, was fired after being called “an old fuddy duddy” and being told that his “ideas were too old to matter.” He sued for age discrimination. Google eventually settled the case, paying Reid an undisclosed sum.

And Google is not alone. According to this article in Fortune, some tech companies have gone so far as to find sly ways to specify age of preferred candidates in job ads.

Contact the Murphy Law Group Now for a Free Consultation

As with most legal issues, age discrimination depends heavily on a person’s particular circumstances. If you believe you’ve been treated unfairly because of your age, it’s best to speak to an attorney who has experience fighting age discrimination.

Email us at, or call (267) 273-1054 for a free consultation to find out more about your rights.