Google pays $11m to end age discrimination lawsuit

Google also pays out over data breaches in harvesting data for Street View project

Google has agreed to pay $11m to end a lawsuit accusing the internet giant of discriminating against older job applicants. Photograph: Charles Platiau/Reuters

Google has agreed to pay $11m to end a lawsuit accusing the internet giant of discriminating against older job applicants. Photograph: Charles Platiau/Reuters

 

Google has agreed to pay $11 million (€9.9 million) to end a lawsuit accusing the internet giant of discriminating against older job applicants. It is a deal that amounts to an average payout of more than $35,000 for 227 people who were over 40 when they applied to join the company. and who joined the class action.

The settlement also calls for the Alphabet unit to train employees and managers about age bias, to create a committee focused on age diversity in recruiting and to ensure that complaints are adequately investigated.

Lawyers for the company, and attorneys representing the more than 40 jobseekers who sued, submitted a final settlement proposal to a federal judge in San Jose, California. Lawyers will collect about $2.75 million from the accord.

The case was brought by a woman who claimed she was interviewed by Google four times over seven years and was never offered employment despite her “highly pertinent qualifications and programming experience” because of her age. Cheryl Fillekes accused the company of “a systematic pattern and practice of discriminating” against older people.

“Age discrimination is an issue that needs to be addressed in the tech industry, and we’re very pleased that we were able to obtain a fair settlement for our clients in this case,” Daniel Low, a lawyer for Ms Fillekes, said in an email.

Denied

Google denied the allegations, saying that Ms Fillekes and other jobseekers she cited as examples didn’t demonstrate the technical aptitude required for the job, even though they were found by staff interviewers to be “Googley” enough to be a good fit for the company.

The company said it still denies that it intentionally discriminated against Ms Fillekes, or any of the other plaintiffs, because of their age. It says it has strong policies in place against discrimination, including age discrimination.

In a second settlement for Google, the company has agreed to pay $13 million to end a lawsuit over data protection violations committed when the company was setting up its Street View project in 2010.

As part of that effort, which involved sending cars equipped with cameras to try to map every street in the US, Google also started collecting information from open wifi networks as it drove by homes.

The company’s lawyers had argued that, since the wifi networks were open, the information should not be considered private. But that argument suffered a setback in 2013, when a federal court rejected the claim.

Good news

Nonetheless, the settlement is only good news for a tiny number of consumers. Lawyers argued that it would be impossible to track down every victim of the privacy violations from the random bits of information collected as a street view car zoomed past their homes, and so only the 18 plaintiffs who explicitly filed the class action will get an individual payout.

The rest of the money will be distributed to consumer privacy groups, according to Bloomberg. – Bloomberg/Guardian