Age discrimination in Silicon Valley?

Get new comments by email
You can cancel email alerts at anytime.
Comments (17)

D Weaver in Silicon Valley, California

73 months ago

Hello All,

I'm a newbie to this forum. I'm hoping some of you could shed some light to this concern of mine.

I was laid off on Jan 2009. I've worked for a major computer company for nearly 10 years in New York. I was then relocated in the Bay Area in Jan 2008. I'm well educated with several degrees (AS degree in Computer Science, BS degree in Information Systems, BS degree in Psychology, and MS in Computer Engineering) and several technical certifications. I'm US-born, btw.

I just turned 40 and I am having a difficult time getting hired here in CA. I do get phone and in person interviews and do fairly well; but when it comes down to asking my date of birth and what year I graduated high school, I'm feeling that this is an illegal hiring question. I do answer these questions, however, as not to create any waves. Days after the interview, I get a response from the HR-Rep stating that the hiring manager "was very please with our interview but decided with someone who was fresh out of school." The job requirements asked for someone with 5 to 10 years experience!?!

So my questions are:
Is there age discrimination in Silicon Valley?
What does one do if faced with an illegal interview/hiring question?
Could a company be flagged/reported for unfair hiring practices?

I greatly appreciate your suggestions

Cheers,
DW

- Was this comment helpful? Yes / No Reply - Report abuse

YourInterviewCoach in South Haven, Michigan

73 months ago

There is age discrimination everywhere, not just in the Silicon Valley. The EEOC's Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 only protects workers who are 40 years old and older from age discrimination and in workplaces with 20 or more employees.

However, after reading your question over a couple of times, I find it hard to beleive you are asked this on a regular basis - especially from an HR Rep.

Are you asking this question from personal experiences or are you just opening up a question for the forum?

- Was this comment helpful? Yes / No (1) Reply - Report abuse

D Weaver in San Ramon, California

73 months ago

Hello YourInterviewCoach,

Thank you so much for your response. Yes, of the 34 interviews I had to date, 12 companies had asked me to fill out another "internal" application form, in conjunction to the "external" online employment application form I've already submitted. These are from well known tech-companies and a major California hospital (which I will not name here). The "internal" application form had your standard questions: name, address, and phone #. The next section of questions asked for: ss#, drivers license, birth date, year of high school graduation, etc., - all with an asterisk by the field box indicating it's required response. I could not bypass or leave certain boxes blank as it would not let me submit my form until I had answered these questions.

So based on my experience and opening up the forum for honest feedback, I am asking these following questions:

What does one do if faced with an illegal interview/hiring question?
Could a company be flagged/reported for unfair hiring practices?
Has anyone (specifically in the SF/Bay Area) experience the same thing when applying or during an interview?
Is there age discrimination in Silicon Valley?

It's quite apparent, when visiting these high-tech companies, that the population are predominantly in their 20s-30s age-range. Could it be that these companies are not hiring those over 40?

I greatly appreciate your response and advice.

Cheers
DW

- Was this comment helpful? Yes / No Reply - Report abuse

Teddy Ballgame in Hillsboro, Oregon

73 months ago

D Weaver in San Ramon, California said: Hello YourInterviewCoach,

Thank you so much for your response. Yes, of the 34 interviews I had to date, 12 companies had asked me to fill out another "internal" application form, in conjunction to the "external" online employment application form I've already submitted. These are from well known tech-companies and a major California hospital (which I will not name here). The "internal" application form had your standard questions: name, address, and phone #. The next section of questions asked for: ss#, drivers license, birth date, year of high school graduation, etc., - all with an asterisk by the field box indicating it's required response. I could not bypass or leave certain boxes blank as it would not let me submit my form until I had answered these questions.

So based on my experience and opening up the forum for honest feedback, I am asking these following questions:

What does one do if faced with an illegal interview/hiring question?
Could a company be flagged/reported for unfair hiring practices?
Has anyone (specifically in the SF/Bay Area) experience the same thing when applying or during an interview?
Is there age discrimination in Silicon Valley?

It's quite apparent, when visiting these high-tech companies, that the population are predominantly in their 20s-30s age-range. Could it be that these companies are not hiring those over 40?

I greatly appreciate your response and advice.

Cheers
DW

It sounds like it was an online "application", is that correct? I know some large companies request e-application that are used soley for the a background check. In that case those are never viewed by the hiring team and are usually not looked at by anyone until the background investigation has been completed - which wouldn't be requested until you had an offer. (???)

- Was this comment helpful? Yes / No (1) Reply - Report abuse

D Weaver in Silicon Valley, California

73 months ago

[Two different scenarios (phone interview and in-person interview) with the same "internal application" to fill out with these concerning questions]

After my phone interview/screeing with the HR Rep, I was emailed an "internal" application form to fill out.

After my in-person interview with the hiring manager and team, I was sent back to the HR Rep to fill out an "internal" application form. (HR also asked for my drivers license and SS-Card to photocopy).

The feedback is the same flavor: "the hiring manager was very please with your interview, but decided with someone who was fresh out of school." OR "We were very delighted to meet you and to have a stellar background. However, the hiring manager and team felt that you do not match our corporate culture..." <sigh...>

- Was this comment helpful? Yes / No Reply - Report abuse

Wintergreen in Pleasanton, California

72 months ago

I feel your pain! I'm in my 40s with 20 years experience, and applied at several high-tech jobs in the SF/San Jose areas. I too have my share of age discrimination interview stories.

Unfortunately age discrimination is still practiced; but know your rights that it is illegal. The companies' recruiters are very aware of this law, but they've collectively decided, as gatekeepers, to turn the other cheek and to keep older and seasoned-pro out of their company.

Here's a direct link to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission website which spells out The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) www.eeoc.gov/types/age.html

Here's a snippet of the law:
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) protects individuals who are 40 years of age or older from employment discrimination based on age. The ADEA's protections apply to both employees and job applicants. Under the ADEA, it is unlawful to discriminate against a person because of his/her age with respect to any term, condition, or privilege of employment, including hiring, firing, promotion, layoff, compensation, benefits, job assignments, and training.

The ADEA applies to employers with 20 or more employees, including state and local governments. It also applies to employment agencies and labor organizations, as well as to the federal government. ADEA protections include:

# Pre-Employment Inquiries
The ADEA does not specifically prohibit an employer from asking an applicant's age or date of birth. However, because such inquiries may deter older workers from applying for employment or may otherwise indicate possible intent to discriminate based on age, requests for age information will be closely scrutinized to make sure that the inquiry was made for a lawful purpose, rather than for a purpose prohibited by the ADEA.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (2) / No Reply - Report abuse

puckman979 in Redding, California

71 months ago

From the ADAE code:

Pre-Employment Inquiries
The ADEA does not specifically prohibit an employer from asking an applicant's age or date of birth. However, because such inquiries may deter older workers from applying for employment or may otherwise indicate possible intent to discriminate based on age, requests for age information will be closely scrutinized to make sure that the inquiry was made for a
lawful purpose, rather than for a purpose prohibited by the ADEA.

What "lawful purpose" do employers have for asking the year of college graduation? It's been asked more often than not.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes / No Reply - Report abuse

YourInterviewCoach in South Haven, Michigan

71 months ago

Some companies with positions that require a college degree will verify that degree with the college. One of the questions asked by many colleges is the date of graduation to aid in their search. A few years ago, the CEO of Radio Shack was fired because he lied on his resume regarding having a college degree.

This could be a "lawful purpose".

- Was this comment helpful? Yes / No Reply - Report abuse

one person in Oakland, California

62 months ago

Also, asking when you got your degree is understandable because
they want to know how relavent your degree is. For example, an
Electrical Engineering degree from 15 years ago is different
than one you would get today. The focus is different, the classes were
different, etc. I suspect this is true for all industries especially
high tech.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes / No Reply - Report abuse

anonymous in San Francisco, California

62 months ago

At least you're getting follow-up after the interview. And with HR no less!
YES, YES, YES. Age discrimation is everywhere. Why would you think it is only in Silicon Valley? Maybe because it's a high tech area and they tend to lean towards younger employees.

Good luck

- Was this comment helpful? Yes / No Reply - Report abuse

anonymous2010 in silicon valley, California

62 months ago

Oldbaldy, your message sounds like job SCAMS all of us on this forum are leary of and stay clear of. If we're smart!

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (1) / No (2) Reply - Report abuse

tugboatcrew in Union City, California

62 months ago

No one has told you about California employment laws. Specifically, California Department of Fair Employment & Housing. You should see the State of CA official EMPLOYMENT INQUIRIES fact ssheet of questions that are acceptable or deemed unacceptable by DFEA. Just type into your search engine "California Department of Fair Employment & Housing Fact Sheet"

Their web address is too long and may not work but herre it is:

http//www.dfeh.ca.gov/DHEA?Publications/PublicationsDocs/DEFA-161.pdf

Very best regards,

old crew member

- Was this comment helpful? Yes / No Reply - Report abuse

anonymous2010 in silicon valley, California

62 months ago

oldbaldy - your trying to scam the Indeed.com users again!!!

- Was this comment helpful? Yes / No (2) Reply - Report abuse

whome2 in Santa Clara, California

55 months ago

I have an email from a headhunter that asks my date of birth outright. When I asked why my age was relevant, I was told it was to prevent duplicates in their DB...what a bunch of BS...I replied "Why don't you use my email???" Anyone who has more than 5 minutes tech experience knows it's more likely someone with your name will be born on the same day as you than someone else has your email address. This would be funny if it wasn't screwing with my life...

- Was this comment helpful? Yes / No (1) Reply - Report abuse

whome2 in Santa Clara, California

55 months ago

one person in Oakland, California said: Also, asking when you got your degree is understandable because
they want to know how relavent your degree is. For example, an
Electrical Engineering degree from 15 years ago is different
than one you would get today. The focus is different, the classes were
different, etc. I suspect this is true for all industries especially
high tech.

based on this "observation"...one better stay in school forever...

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (1) / No Reply - Report abuse

Angie

31 months ago

YourInterviewCoach in South Haven, Michigan said: Some companies with positions that require a college degree will verify that degree with the college. One of the questions asked by many colleges is the date of graduation to aid in their search. A few years ago, the CEO of Radio Shack was fired because he lied on his resume regarding having a college degree.

This could be a "lawful purpose".

Asking for year of COLLEGE graduation is usually recognized as legitimate, both for this reason and because the possibility of attending college at an older age (even though most people do not) makes it less of a dead giveaway than high school graduation. I'm not sure what to suggest you do to handle these particular companies on these particular interviews, but over the long term, you could do a great deal of good for *others* by making a copy of the form, noting the company that provided it, and contacting the EEOC with the information. Understand: I am not saying you lodge a formal complaint, which can be costly and difficult to pursue, as well as taking time away from your career and getting you unwanted attention; I am saying that *alerting* the EEOC and providing them the actual form could bring the matter to their attention and possibly tip the scales if they already were considering looking into a given company.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (1) / No Reply - Report abuse

Calfornian in Hayward, California

31 months ago

This thread is very dead but it's a relevant topic, nonetheless.

If you roll into an office, and everyone you interview with is 10 years younger than you, it's going to be awfully hard to crack that nut, unless they are hiring you as CEO. You better have a very badly needed skill or be very good at what you do. They don't need your graduation date, they'll toss you just because you don't fit in and you'll never prove they did a single thing wrong.

And the hard truth is that the industry basically discriminates just based on technology churn. You put down roots, get comfortable, and before you know it, you are behind the curve. Lawyers, doctors, and other professions become more valuable with age, techies just get old.

I've actually seen places that brag about everyone being under 30. What happens at 30? Soylent Green? Logan's Run?

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (5) / No Reply - Report abuse

» Sign in or create an account to comment on this topic.