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Friday, 06 August 2010 10:39

Google's ageist claim has to be heard

Written by Nick Farell


Supreme Court rules
Search outfit Google will have to defend itself from claims that it was ageist and fired a bloke for being too old.

Google thought it could avoid the case when a trial court judge chucked the case out. Then an Appeal court re-instated it. Google appealed against the Appeal to the California Supreme Court. However now the Supremes have agreed with the Appeal court and the case is back on the books. The case was bought against Google by Brian Reid, who was hired in 2002 as a director of operations and engineering, and fired less than two years later at age 54 after being told he was not a good "cultural fit".

The Supreme court said that the trial court should have considered "stray remarks" from Reid's colleagues, including that he was an "old man" and "old fuddy-duddy", that might be seen as evidence of bias. Google insists that it had legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons for firing Reid. Reid is a former associate professor of electrical engineering at Stanford University who had helped develop the AltaVista search engine. He claims that he was subjected to put-downs by a 38-year-old vice president who told him his ideas were "obsolete" and "too old to matter", and that he was "slow", "fuzzy", "sluggish" and "lethargic".

The plaintiff also said other colleagues made fun of his age, including a joke that a CD jewel case used as his office placard should instead be an "LP".

Nick Farell

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