Earlier this week, the EEOC concluded that Intel discriminated against older workers during mass layoffs in 2015 and 2016.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently announced a conclusion to an investigation into the mass layoffs that occurred at Intel back in 2015. According to the federal agency, Intel indeed discriminated “against eight older workers” during those layoffs. The report brings an end to a five-year investigation prompted by employee complaints. The commission said:
“There is reasonable cause to believe that eight individuals over the age of forty (40) were laid off or otherwise separated by Respondent (Intel) in 2015 based on their age and in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.”
For now, the EEOC plans to work with Intel to help “resolve the issues on behalf of the laid-off workers.” What happened, though? Why were the employee complaints filed in the first place?
According to the EEOC investigation, “Intel laid off nearly 1,200 U.S. workers in 2015 and cut as many as 15,000 jobs companywide the following year.” It was the largest downsizing in Intel’s history and prompted numerous complaints, including complaints from eight older workers who alleged the cuts were skewed toward more elderly employees. In fact, according to the complaints, “workers over age 40 were more than twice as likely to lose their jobs as younger workers…and workers over 60 were eight times more likely to be laid off than those under 30.”
Intel pushed back against the complaints and recently stated:
“Personnel decisions in our 2015 and 2016 actions were based solely upon business needs. Factors such as age, race, national origin, gender, immigration status, or other personal demographics were not part of the process when we made these decisions…The EEOC has concluded its investigation into our 2015 action…and offered to work with Intel to address its concerns.”
Brian Krzanich, the former CEO for Intel, also pushed back against the complaints, and during a 2015 company meeting he said, “this is the way a meritocracy works.” A year later, he admitted the layoffs were “too harsh and quick and had damaged Intel’s relationship with its remaining employees.” In 2018, Krzanich even lost his job with the company after the company’s board learned he had “carried on a romantic relationship with an employee in violation of corporate policy.”
Despite coming to its recent conclusion in its investigation, it’s important to note the process was slow. Because of this, many advocates for older workers have spoken out, claiming the “the drawn-out process reflects a chronic failure to investigate and enforce age discrimination in the workplace.” They added the federal agency “lacks funding to properly investigate allegations, and that federal law requires a higher standard of proof for age discrimination than discrimination against other protected classes.”
U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, D-Beaverton, chimed in on the matter and said:
“Age discrimination is still too prevalent in the workplace…My office has been working closely with people who have filed age discrimination complaints, but the burden and outcomes are often very uncertain.”