Along with paying out $11 million to settle an age discrimination lawsuit, Google’s on the hook for $13 million more in another claim.
Google is settling a series of lawsuits, among them a class action which alleged widespread age discrimination in hiring.
According to CNET, Google’s expected to pay out $11 million. The award will be accompanied by policy changes. Managers will be give enhanced training on age bias, and Google has also promised to form committees promoting more equitable hiring.
The agreement will see Google taking complaints more seriously, too—the Alphabet-owned company says it will start investigating age bias accusations.
CNET recounts how plaintiffs claimed that Google engaged in “a systematic pattern or practice of discrimination” against job applicants aged 40 and over. One of the lead plaintiffs on the case, Cheryl Fillekes, said she was interviewed with Google four separate times, but was never extended a job offer despite her “highly pertinent qualifications and programming experience.”
“Age discrimination is an issue that needs to be addressed in the tech industry,” Fillekes’ attorney told Bloomberg. “[And] we’re very pleased that we were able to obtain a fair settlement for our clients in this case.”
But the claims brought up in this class action aren’t unique—not to Google, or to Silicon Valley as a whole. Older job-seekers who have long alleged that Big Tech is skeptical of aging employees. The Guardian notes that the average age of a Facebook employee is 29; at Amazon, it’s 30.
Forbes.com speculates that ageism may not be the biggest contributor to unfair hiring trends. In a Wednesday article, Jack Kelly suggests that many older job applicants may be used to more compensation than their fresh-faced competition—and that H.R. officers may fear they’ll accept low salaries, then move out the second they get a better offer.
“Unfortunately,” Kelly writes, “any way you look at the current situation, it’s a real problem and an exceedingly hard challenge for older workers.”
Even though Google did settle, it steadfastly maintained that it never ‘intentionally’ discriminated against any applicants. Rather, its attorneys say job-seekers like Fillekes were turned down because they weren’t technically qualified or seemed a poor fit for the corporation’s culture.
Along with paying out for ageism, Google settled a second lawsuit. The company agreed to pay $13 million to end litigation on data protection violations, which occurred when Street View began expanding in 2010.
Google Street View is best known for providing road-level views of cities, streets and highways—but in 2010, its Street View cars also began collecting information from open home WiFi networks as they drove past.
But because Street View encompasses so many neighborhoods and homes, it’d be impossible to track down everyone who might have a claim. So only the 18 individuals who kick-started the class action will receive an individual pay-out, with remaining funds to be disbursed to consumer privacy groups.