Lieff Cabraser Civil Justice Blog
Age Discrimination in Tech

Kelly Dermody in CIO on Ageism in Information Technology

Online magazine CIO has published a broad analysis of the current state of age discrimination in information technology. Recognizing that ageism in the info-tech field is widespread, the publication notes that age-based discrimination has become a central issue in an industry whose leaders commonly express a preference for younger workers. Social and economic factors come into play as well, as promotion and hiring decisions are often affected by presumptions that older employees are less conversant with new tech, or the idea that younger workers are less willing to demand time off and typically ask for lower salaries.

Lieff Cabraser attorney Kelly Dermody told CIO that age biases are frequently embodied in the language used by company managers when they talk about career opportunities. “For example, a manager may explain a lack of promotion on the basis that the manager wanted ‘young blood,’ or may describe a decision not to hire the ‘old geezers,’” Dermody noted. “But bias may be reflected in patterns even if no biased statements are used, as when a company never hires anyone older than 30 or limits the amount of prior experience an applicant may have.”

Age discrimination can often be subtle, as in startup culture where it’s just assumed that companies will seek recent college graduates for workplaces whose high-energy atmosphere seems inherently incompatible with maturity. Nevertheless, ageism can also be obvious, as when younger employees appear to be treated more favorably, receiving greater training and promotional opportunities.

Ageism can sometimes seem like an acceptible bias, but the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) applies to all employers (including federal, state, and local government agencies) with 20 or more employees. ADEA protects individuals age 40 and older from age discrimination in every aspect of the employment relationship.

Concerns about age bias can extend to job interviews as well. “If an interview raises concerns, take careful notes as soon as possible after the interview that reflect who was in the conversation, what was said, and the date of the conversation,” Dermody said. “If you think you are being denied a job due to age, contact a lawyer and/or the EEOC.”

The article goes on to offer some solid advice for tech industry workers who might be concerned about ageism, urging them to stay current with developing technologies, to be open and eager with respect to new training, and to be smart about how they present themselves to prospective employers.

The full piece is available online at CIO.com.

Upholding Employee Rights

Lieff Cabraser has a strong tradition of fighting for employee rights across America. Our employment law class action cases challenge discrimination based on employees’ race, color, national origin, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, or disability; wage violations, including failure to pay overtime, break time, or vacation time; and misuse of employees’ retirement benefits. We also represent employees who “blow the whistle” on wrongdoing by their employers as well as in other cases alleging violations of the law.

About Kelly M. Dermody

The Chair of Lieff Cabraser’s employment practice group and Managing Partner of Lieff Cabraser’s San Francisco office, Kelly Dermody supervises many of the most significant and challenging employment lawsuits in our nation today, including the recently-filed gender discrimination case against Sandia National Labs and other cases challenging gender and race discrimination by top Wall Street, Silicon Valley, and Fortune 100 firms; wage suppression claims against technology, healthcare, and academic institutions; overtime and lost pay lawsuits for low-wage workers, I/T professionals, and foreign nationals working for American corporations; and ERISA claims that she has tried on behalf of employees and retirees for pension plan abuses.