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Lawsuit charges Google with age discrimination
Geez, 54 is not old, is it?
loanuniverse

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 326 posted 11:10 pm on Jul 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

The civil complaint, filed Tuesday in Santa Clara Superior court, alleges Mountain View-based Google fired Brian Reid, 54, as its director of operations in February 2004 because he didn't fit in a culture emphasizing ``youth and energy.''

[kansascity.com...]

 

loanuniverse

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 326 posted 5:17 pm on Jul 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

...When there is no one at the helm who has "been there and done that" before...

How old is the SE / Internet advertising industry anyway? 10 years? I don't think there are many "been there, done that" people around

ogletree

WebmasterWorld Senior Member ogletree us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 326 posted 5:23 pm on Jul 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

That is so true. They also need some non programemrs there. Most programmers I know want to just write code and are convinced that it should work because they are so good. They are alwasy shocked when there are some glitches. They really need some older folk there to keep them grounded.

msgraph

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 326 posted 5:33 pm on Jul 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

How old is the SE / Internet advertising industry anyway? 10 years? I don't think there are many "been there, done that" people around

True, but older more experienced people may have more common sense and have "been there done that" in the real world, which can apply to many new areas. They might have a better chance of seeing what the competition is doing and what people really want, whereas a young phd who spent his/her whole life in school can be quite clueless at times.

Jane_Doe

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jane_doe us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 326 posted 5:34 pm on Jul 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

I would just add that it's impossible to know the true facts of this case from one person's side of the story. I used to have to fire people frequently as a part of one of my jobs. People had a last chance with me and then they were either managed up or out.

We did have a strong HR and legal department and employees were always put on a probtionary period for about 6 months and given lots of time to either find a new job or improve their performance. Some worked out okay and some ended up getting fired. The ones who got fired almost always claimed they were fired without warning and blamed it on their religion, age, sexual preference, gender - anything except that fact that they weren't getting any work done or that they bluffed their way into the job in the interview and then didn't have the right skills to be able to do the job they were hired for. They invariably threatened to sue, though no one was ever successful at it because we had such a strong, documented paper trail.

From the management side of things we could not give the other employees the specifics of the person's performance issues. As a result the other employees only heard one side of the story which, while it made for great gossip, often contained no truth whatsoever.

So I would suggest when you hear about cases like this you may want to keep an open mind until you have all of the facts.

HughMungus

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 326 posted 6:09 pm on Jul 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

who here knows what these managers were thinking when they let this gentlemen go?

"Reid said company executives initially gave him no reason for his termination before Shona Brown, vice president of business operations, told him he was incompatible with Google's youthful atmosphere."

Who was there to witness this man's performance and can prove that he was doing a great job and the managers let him go because of his age?

"Reid never received a negative job review before his firing, the suit said."

[miami.com...]

IITian

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 326 posted 6:15 pm on Jul 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

>The ones who got fired almost always claimed they were fired without warning and blamed it on their religion, age, sexual preference, gender - anything except that fact that they weren't getting any work done or that they bluffed their way into the job in the interview and then didn't have the right skills to be able to do the job they were hired for.

Seems like young, Christian, heterosexual Caucasian males were not getting fired since they could not use the excuses you mentioned above. Must be their innate superior abilities and strong work ethics compared to the rest.

markus007

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 326 posted 8:18 pm on Jul 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

Guy sounds like some con artist looking for a free lunch.

sidyadav

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 326 posted 9:26 pm on Jul 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

So Google fired their oldest executive, don't think that's fair at all. However, if Reid was the oldest executive, guess who's going next ;)

I don't think Google executives know that one day, lets say in about 10 or 20 years, they will be as old as, or even more than what Reid was at his time at Google. So does this mean half the 'Googlers' will be getting fired in the future?

Sid

truthbetold

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 326 posted 5:05 am on Jul 25, 2004 (gmt 0)


Like Jane_Doe, I've had the difficult job of letting many people go in my time. We also have a strict policy of giving people frequent feedback on their performance, and we give them many opportunities to improve.

When the person still chooses to not improve and we are forced to let them go, the person almost ALWAYS claims that they were wronged by the company. I have had several people claim that they were given no warning just like this guy said to the press, even though we had a very clear documented paper trail of warnings... so just because this guy told the press he had no warnings, i would be careful not to just blindly believe before hearing the other side of the story. Remember that this man has millions of dollars at stake, which is quite an incentive to claim a lot of things. Like Jane_doe said, the company is in a bind because they do not usually want to release the exact causes of letting someone go to the public since it would seem distasteful.

My theory is that its easier for people who underperform or cant work with others and are let go to blame the company rather than having to admit it was their own performance that caused the problem.

Again, i ask, why would Google let this man go if he was performing and helping the company move forward? There was some reason why they felt he did not fit in or he was not performing and it is their right to make that decision, not yours or mine. Who will say in this forum that they know what they were thinking and can say it was simply because he was "too old".

I understand that there are some bad businesses who do not respect their employees, but i assure you that there are many decent businesses that truly try to take care of their people... and yet they are lumped in with "evil corporate America".

Like Jane_Doe said, no one here knows the facts of this case so all the theories and comments of wrong doing after hearing one side of this story seems pre-mature, uninformed, and irrational.

Let's all take a deep breath and wait to get the facts folks before we judge.

As a final note, i would point out that Google has several older people working for them so it is clear they do not have some sort of blanket policy of discrimination. Some of the top management at the company are in their 40s and 50s... so in other words, the most IMPORTANT PEOPLE IN THE COMPANY ARE OLDER.

Also, isnt it possible that certain industries are better suited in general to a younger demographic of employee? The last time i walked into a bank or real estate office, I dont think i saw anyone under 40 years of age. Do you think they're discriminating against younger people, or is it possible that that those industries are simply more geared towards a more mature employee demographic than a very fast paced, high tech, internet based company?

George

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 326 posted 5:35 am on Jul 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

>>>>>everyone is going to get old.

I'm not. At 40 a group of my old class mates and I are getting together for a blow out party, because at the time, we felt all our parents were so old, forgetful and stupid, there was NO WAY we wanted to be like them.

We would rather die.

Damn, I must have missed the party :).

Forgot it I guess.

Jane_Doe

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jane_doe us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 326 posted 5:49 am on Jul 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

> Seems like young, Christian, heterosexual Caucasian males were not getting fired

I have had a white guy I let go once claim I was "intimidated by his masculinity" and his "power suits". So even white guys who can't claim age discrimination may still try to use use gender as an excuse. In reality he was let go because he had embelished his resume and claimed to be an expert in his job interview in a specific programming language he actually didn't know at all, and as a result couldn't complete any of his assignments once he was hired.

I don't know all of the facts in the Google case, but just because someone claims something in a law suit doesn't necessarily mean it is true.

rfung

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 326 posted 6:24 am on Jul 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

To those that say that there might be a valid performance based reason why the guy was let go...

if you have a bunch of 20 year olds(an age group which I belong to) running the place, how much would anyone care to bet that whatever the 'old fogey' was doing could come across as being under-performing? this is a simple matter of the older guy being on a different mindset than the younger ones - where the older ,err..I meant, more experienced manager might want to go through 3 beta tests of a new software, the younger managers might think that he 'was too cautious and did not see the forward driven momentum of the new release of the software. As a result, said manager authorized additional unwarranted testing which took us out of the window of opportunity'...or something like that.

Filipe

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 326 posted 8:32 am on Jul 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

Not just playing devil's advocate here, but at the same time not condoning Google's organizational style outright -- but:

Worked for them so far, huh?

Harry

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 326 posted 11:19 am on Jul 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

I'm amazed at how quick many take side in this issue without having all the facts.

Essex_boy

WebmasterWorld Senior Member essex_boy us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 326 posted 12:24 pm on Jul 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

Having been fired from a job on a 'fit up' i.e pack of groundless lies I know how he feels, however I have allso worked with people who who always play the race card when it comes to disciplne hearings. They even have teh audacity to tell me before hand as well.

So i think the best you can you say here is that you just dont know if its true or an attempt to get one back.

Chris_R

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 326 posted 2:12 pm on Jul 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

There are two sides to every story. He could be right, but he could also be like they guy who sued prison guards for hitting him - which was true, but he forgot to mention in his suit that is was to get the prisoner to stop stabbing him at the time.

That being said. Diversity means more than color, age, sex, religion....

I didn't ever really believe in diversity being helpful to a corporation until recently. I guess I always was hung up on it being politically correct. If corporations are willing to hire people of different colors, ages, sexs, religions - then they also seem to be willing to hire people with different experiences and different ways of thinking.

There is ore than one right answer to many problems - and many of the people I have met at pubcon and the like have convinced me that my old way of thinking was wrong. I was stunned to find - for example - while in boston - I was the only american at my table. People off all age groups - some in their 60s - were doing well on the internet.

If all you hire (on the engineering side) are PhDs from southern california who can solve brain teasers and do mathematical problems - you aren't going to get some better ways at looking at problems.

I can't play chess well enough to beat something at level 1 - or any half decent chess player - despite trying very hard - and having an excellent math sat score. I got a 98% on my logic final, but some simple cryptograms and the like escape me. Despite this I come up with some pretty good ideas when it comes to SEO - ideas that I know no one else has thought of before (as I can search for it - and I am the only who was doing it [at the time]).

The people I have met from google have all been genuinely nice people who would not willingly discriminate against anyone. I know that is just an opinion, but hey - I can have one.

Keep in mind - also - that I doubt there is any big company that hasn't been sued for this. I don't think anyone can say if it is true or not. He could FEEL that way - and be telling the TRUTH as he saw it - and google ould FEEL the opposite and be telling the TRUTH as they saw it.

digitalv

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 326 posted 3:02 pm on Jul 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

was "intimidated by his masculinity" and his "power suits".

Did you get that in writing? That's great! Haha!

Maybe I'm alone here, but I say to hell with "equal opportunity employment". It's one thing to discriminate against someone because of their race, religion, or other stuff that generally wouldn't interfere with the work environment - that is totally wrong.

Age is a completely different animal. I have seen it proven over and over that people within the same general age group work together better as a group than people of varying ages. How many of you refuse to hire 18 year olds because you know (or THINK you know) that an 18 year old isn't going to be the best person for the job? I admit I'm guilty of that - I wasn't always, but there is generally too much "drama" associated with hiring people in that age group, and the turnover rate is terrible.

I know it's not everyone, and who knows I may have missed out on hiring a great employee - but ultimately it's my business and I just don't feel that any government should have the right to tell me who I can and can't hire. If you need a better example, look at Government itself - the U.S. Government is the most unorganized, inefficient, and poorly managed business on the planet. This is largely because they hire people based on the resume and not the PERSON. How much more efficient would the government operate if they didn't hire every clown that met the minimum qualification for the job?

So yeah, I discriminate. I admit it. Sue me. There is more to working for me than what your resume says you're capable of, and if I don't think you're going to "fit in" you're not going to get the job even if you're the most qualified applicant on paper. It's not fair to my CURRENT employees to throw someone else in the pool that is going to make them not want to come in to work.

Personal ethics aside, the fact is we don't know the full story about this Google case. What we do know is that Google's office is a unique environment compared to most businesses and it's very likely that a seasoned citizen didn't fit in and created tension among other employees. I know my techs like to have their damn MP3's going all the time, and I've noticed that they actually DO get more work done when they can relax and listen to some music so I let it slide. If I hired someone that couldn't work with background music or for any other reason couldn't mesh well with the existing guys, I would get rid of them vs. making my seasoned employees change the way they do things.

Sometimes getting rid of the complainer is a better solution than changing what they were complaining about.

rfung

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 326 posted 4:28 pm on Jul 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

I don't think anyone who is in a position to hire(or fire) someone doesn't descriminate or let their own personal biases get in the way of things regarding race/gender/religion.

However, when such behavior is endemic to the system, you get glass ceilings for women and minorities, that's when things get fuzzy. Especially if it happens to _you_. It's not a funny business when you're being shut out of jobs/opportunities because you're too old/young/female/minority/white/christian...and yet you're perfectly capable of doing the job.

The movie "A time to kill" comes to mind.

IITian

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 326 posted 5:49 pm on Jul 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

The people I have met from google have all been genuinely nice people who would not willingly discriminate against anyone. I know that is just an opinion, but hey - I can have one.

About a year ago I read a young girl's account of how loving his father was and was so kind and gentle. I believed her completely. She was Saddam's daughter.

In lesser extreme cases - if one met the executives of several companies involved in class action lawsuits for discrimination, one would likely be impressed by their sincereity and niceness and will tend to believe that how those thousands of protected class employees suing them are trying to extort money from them and the company has zero tolerance for discrimination and all white male executive board is purely based on merit and hard work, and how there frivolous lawsuits will be defended vigorously (with company's money, of course.)

My limited experience in the USA tells me that the companies have become bolder, helped by its kept Justice System, Government agencies, media and a population that has stopped thinking long time ago, and things are becoming worse.

kaled

WebmasterWorld Senior Member kaled us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 326 posted 6:25 pm on Jul 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

the U.S. Government is the most unorganized, inefficient, and poorly managed business on the planet.

Why is it you Americans always think they're No.1 - we Brits can beat you on inefficiency no problem - we call it the National Health Service. I think I'm right in saying that it is now the second biggest employer in the World - only the Chinese Red Army is bigger.

Kaled.
:)

WebFusion

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 326 posted 11:15 pm on Jul 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

Who was there to witness this man's performance and can prove that he was doing a great job and the managers let him go because of his age?

Fair enough. However, as an experienced manager myself, if it is in fact true that this employee never had a documented negative review, then Google is going to have a tough time defending themselves.

The fact is, in hte current corporate environment(s), failure to document an employees poor job perfomance just leaves the door open to this kind of thing.

lgn1

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 326 posted 1:29 am on Jul 26, 2004 (gmt 0)

Couldn't Reid just wait for the IPO and sale his shares
on the open market, instead of back to google for 30 cents, or am I missing something.

He can fight the dismissal and get maybe 1 or 2 years salary, say $500,000, while his shares are probably will be worth 10 times that.

It will probably come down to, drop the lawsuit, and
allow Reid to see his shares at the going price, after
the IPO.

cyberprosper

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 326 posted 5:41 am on Jul 26, 2004 (gmt 0)

lgn1, you do not get the options if you are fired, generally speaking.

lgn1

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 326 posted 3:54 pm on Jul 26, 2004 (gmt 0)

You think that somebody who is going to have $10 million in shares, in less than a year, would do everything in his/her power to kiss posterior and brown nose, work as much overtime as requested, and just generally try to be on the good side of everybody until the gravy train arrives.

I know I would, and the judge is probably is going to think the same way.

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