A business journal recently did an investigation into age discrimination in Silicon Valley, and discovered some harsh truths about life as an older worker in the tech industry. Tech workers over the age of 50 report facing a struggle for both respect and job security.
According to older Silicon Valley workers who were interviewed, people in their 20s are treated very well at tech companies, and people in their 30s are tolerated. Tech workers in their 40s normally start to worry about their jobs and competition from younger workers. Employees in their 50s are generally under a huge amount of stress. Employees who are in their 60s or older are very hard to find at high tech companies.
All of the employees over 50 who were willing to speak out about age discrimination said that they had directly experienced it. One employee said he was a former manager of a company that was forced to do layoffs. When deciding which employees got laid off, age was a big factor.
Many top executives at major tech companies let it be known that they have a preference for workers under age 35. Even when older workers do continue with a tech company, they often feel left out. In a survey of 17 top tech companies, most had a median employee age of 30-35. Facebook’s median employee age is 28. Google’s is 30, and Apple’s is 31.
Age discrimination is illegal, but that doesn’t stop companies from doing it. In 2012, there were almost 3,500 age discrimination complaints filed in California with the Department of Fair Housing and Employment. By 2014, the number had jumped to 4,500.
Many older tech workers report falling into a trap where their skills gradually become outdated. They may do one project, get skills in that area, do more projects in the field, and then that field becomes outdated, and they get laid off. Older high tech workers advise that employees in the field keep their skills fresh, and prepare themselves financially to change jobs on a regular basis. Employees who want to remain relevant should stay on top of technology trends, as well as learn about other forms of technology. Older workers should also network. Many report having success as independent contractors.
Women in the tech industry over 50 report having an even tougher time than men. They often work with co-workers who don’t want to listen to their ideas or feedback. Many who want to start their own companies find difficulties finding funding. Those who are allowed to keep their positions often have no chance of advancing within the company.
Even if age discrimination is a common practice in tech companies, it is illegal. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act forbids age discrimination against people who are age 40 or older. The law does not protect workers under the age of 40. Age discrimination means treating a job applicant or an employee less favorably because of his or her age. The law also forbids harassment based on age.
If you have suffered age discrimination at work, you should speak with an attorney. You may be entitled to lost wages, lost benefits, and compensation for your emotional damages. At Liberty Law, Micha Star Liberty believes that older employees should be treated with the fairness and respect they deserve. Call Oakland age discrimination attorney Micha Star Liberty or Seth I. Rosenberg at 510-645-1000 or 415-896-1000 if you have faced employment discrimination. They work with clients throughout the Oakland-San Francisco area, and will be happy to provide you with a free consultation. Call today to learn more.