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Law Offices of Dan A. Atkerson

Does Silicon Valley Overtly Practice Age Discrimination?

By Dan Atkerson on September 26, 2016

Happy Mature BusinesswomanSilicon Valley executives are having a hard time explaining the apparent age discrimination present in their hiring practices. Ask any senior professional in the high-tech industry, and you are a likely to hear complaints about how after 40 it’s difficult to land a job. These numbers aren’t just anecdotal either. The average American worker is 43, while at Facebook it is 29. That number is 30 at Google, and 31 at Amazon. Nearly every technology company is a least a decade younger than the rest of the workforce. This raises the question of why older employees are so much rarer at technology companies.

Many Companies Seem to Have Official Age Discrimination Policies

Tech executives aren’t exactly shy about their hiring practices. Many have an official policy of hiring as many young college graduates as possible. More senior applicants are typically only considered for management positions, if they are considered at all. The idea is supposed to create a culture where employees have the latest and greatest skills, but are older employees even getting the opportunity to prove themselves? Many don’t think so.

In fact, a large number of workers have even been taking their grievances to court. In the past seven years, the largest 150 technology companies have been sued 226 times for age discrimination. That makes these cases far more common in technology than in other industries. For a comparison, age discrimination complaints are 28 percent more common than racial discrimination cases in Silicon Valley. The industry can be especially tough for more experienced female employees, since they often face the additional disadvantage of gender discrimination. Despite attempts at progress, Silicon Valley companies are still predominately male. It can be difficult for people to find work in a culture that appears to give preference to young men.

Age Discrimination is Against the Law

Even though this issue is widespread, that doesn’t make it acceptable. Age discrimination is against the law. Employers are forbidden from denying employment, promotions, benefits or opportunities on the basis of age. More and more workers are fighting to hold these companies accountable for their discriminatory practices. With hundreds of lawsuits, hopefully the industry gets the message that we will not stand for this illegal behavior. If you have been the victim of age discrimination, you should contact an attorney.

Dan A. Atkerson is a Dallas employment lawyer  with a passion for serving victims of age discrimination, racial discrimination, wage theft and other forms of workplace injustice.

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