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Widespread Age Bias in Silicon Valley

Posted on in Employment

A culture that both worships and trusts only youth has led to many people in their 50's and 60's being sidelined in California's Silicon Valley. In fact, many technology companies like Google have found themselves defending age discrimination lawsuits filed by older employees, who claimed that they were harassed, neglected, made fun of and just plain discriminated against, because of their age.

Many California workplace discrimination lawyers find that it often isn't enough merely to be smart and driven in Silicon Valley, or to have the kind of ideas that drive startups. Some executives have found that when they got themselves a facelift and fixed their gray hair to get a much younger look, they had a much higher chance of being recruited by tech companies.

Silicon Valley is different from other workplaces. Most tech startups are staffed by people in their 20s or 30s. Facebook is led by Mark Zuckerberg who is in his 20s. The culture in Silicon Valley idolizes people like Zuckerberg, who are young and successful. In fact, many investors in Silicon Valley will openly tell you that they prefer a company to be run by people who are under 40 years of age.

It's hard to tell exactly how discriminatory the environment in Silicon Valley is for older people. There is little data that compares discrimination in Silicon Valley with the kind of discrimination that exists in other places in the United States. However, in 2010, there were 18,335 employment discrimination lawsuits filed with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. Out of these, 1/5th of the cases were related to age discrimination.

That means that age bias was cited as a basis for more claims than sexual harassment, racial discrimination and sexual orientation. More people suffer prejudice because they're old, than because they are black or gay.

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