Google age bias suit settlement could prompt additional litigation

Source: Business Insurance

Judy Greenwald July 30, 2019 A class action lawsuit that Google has settled for $11 million could encourage more litigation, particularly against other high-tech companies, which are viewed as favoring younger workers, say experts. Some experts believe that these age discrimination lawsuits will eventually rise to the level of the pervasive #MeToo litigation, although others say this is unlikely. Google may have settled the failure- to-hire litigation, which is often more difficult to prove than lawsuits filed by current employees, because of the evidence in this particular case, experts say. But other observers say $11 million is not a major expense for a company the size of Google, whose parent company, Mountain View, California-based Alphabet Inc., had almost $137 billion in 2018 revenue, and settling it was less of a hassle than continuing to defend it. The litigation in Robert Heath and Cheryl Fillekes v. Google LLC, which was filed in April 2015, alleged that Google engaged in a “systematic pattern or practice of discrimination against applicants 40 and older.” Mr. Heath was 60 when he applied for a job with Google in 2011. Ms. Fillekes was 47 when she joined the litigation in June 2015. Mr. Heath subsequently reached his own settlement with the company. The litigation was certified as a class action in October 2016. Besides Ms. Fillekes, there are 226 other “opt-ins” into the settlement agreement. In addition to paying the $11 million, Google agreed to train employees and management on age-based bias.