A judge’s ruling has revealed the scale of the claim that Google has discriminated against older people by not hiring them.
Plaintiff Cheryl Fillekes, a systems engineer, alleges that Google interviewed her in person for four different jobs, starting when she was 47, but never hired her, in spite of “affirmatively” reaching out to her about positions because of her “impressive qualifications.”
Google called the allegations of age discrimination “without merit” and said it would continue defending its position vigorously.
“We have strong policies against discrimination on any unlawful basis, including age,” said Google spokesman Ty Sheppard.
The company said in a 2015 court filing that its actions with regard to Fillekes “were motivated by reasonable factors other than age.”
A judge in the suit, filed in April 2015, conditionally certified it as a class action last year.
Now, a ruling by Northern California U.S. District Court judge Howard Lloyd has revealed that 269 people have signed onto the class action, claiming Google discriminated against them in hiring on the basis of their age. A few more claimants will likely add themselves to the class, Lloyd said in the July 27 ruling.
Lloyd’s ruling also limited the information Google can demand from the plaintiffs who opted in to the suit.
“What’s to be allowed?” the judge asked himself rhetorically. “Google wants lots.
“The court wants to be fair and give Google limited discovery that will inform it on areas of legitimate interest, but not impose a(n) undue burden on the opt-ins or their attorneys to respond to discovery that may only be tangentially relevant.”
Google’s wish list included written information from 120 randomly selected plaintiffs and up to 72 in-person depositions of up to three hours. Lawyers for the plaintiffs wished for a sample of 30 plaintiffs who would respond to requests for information, with 25 of the people deposed by video for up to three hours.
Lloyd said some of what Google wanted “cast much too wide a net.”
The judge ordered that 75 of the opt-ins be selected at random to provide written declarations about their claims and alleged damages caused by Google. The company will be entitled to choose 35 of the opt-ins — which may or may not include those providing the declarations — for depositions not longer than three hours. Only five of the depositions can be in person, with at least 30 done via video, Lloyd ruled.
Photo: Technology workers outside a Google office building (Bay Area News Group)
Tags: age discrimination, class-action, Fillekes, Google, lawsuit, opt in