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HP Hit With Age-Discrimination Suit Claiming Old Workers Purged ( 194

Hewlett-Packard started laying off workers in 2012, before it separated into HP Inc. and HP Enterprise last year. The company has continued to cut thousands of jobs since. As a result of the "restructuring," an age discrimination lawsuit has been filed by four former employees of HP alleging they were ousted amid a purge of older workers. The Mercury News reports: "The goal 'was to make the company younger,' said the complain filed Aug. 18 in U.S. District Court in San Jose. 'In order to get younger, HP intentionally discriminated against its older employees by targeting them for termination [...] and then systematically replacing them with younger employees. HP has hired a disproportionately large number of new employees under the age of 40 to replace employees aged 40 and older who were terminated.' Arun Vatturi, a 15-year Palo Alto employee at HP who was a director in process improvement until he was laid off in January at age 52, and Sidney Staton, in sales at HP in Palo Alto for 16 months until his layoff in April 2015 at age 54, have joined in the lawsuit with a former employee from Washington, removed at age 62, and one from Texas, out at age 63. The group is seeking class-action status for the court action and claims HP broke state and federal laws against age discrimination." The lawsuit also alleges that written guidelines issued by HP's human resources department mandated that 75 percent of all hires outside of the company be fresh from school or "early career" applicants.
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HP Hit With Age-Discrimination Suit Claiming Old Workers Purged

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 24, 2016 @05:54PM (#52764979)

    It's that they're expensive.

    • Maybe they should use 'The Purge' method. Lock em in the building and see who survives the night. That'll weed em out.
    • by fluffernutter ( 1411889 ) on Wednesday August 24, 2016 @06:35PM (#52765219)
      Becoming expensive is the entire point of starting a career. And IT companies wonder why more people don't go into it.
      • by Darinbob ( 1142669 ) on Wednesday August 24, 2016 @06:49PM (#52765311)

        Being expensive describes all the executives as well, who do less work than most employees. If parts are too expensive and are replaced with inexpensive ones, then you end up with poorer quality. For workers this is even more true, cutting costs on employees will always lead to worse quality. Of course a lot of companies just don't care about quality, they want a profit in the short run only.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        They don't wonder. They don't care. H1Bs is all the rage.

        I swear some of you are asleep. Outwardly some of these companies may seem like they want a homegrown workforce but watch where their political money goes and their hiring practices. We shouldn't need to have this kind of conversation as adults.

    • Which is why Carly is joining in on this suit.

    • by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Wednesday August 24, 2016 @07:58PM (#52765653) Journal
      Even making them less expensive doesn't seem to help. Young people have "upward potential", whereas an older person who is applying for a job that much younger people also applied for clearly is a "loser" with a dead end career... Never mind the years of experience that he brings. And young people "exciting new ideas and insights to the company", whereas old guys are "change-averse". True to some extent, but sometimes that is the benefit of experience as well. I worked in an organisation with a great mix of old and young, and every now and then some young manager would come up with a brilliant new way of doing things. To which the old guys often responded: "yeah, we tried that before, in '86, '95, 2001 and 2007, and it didn't work. How are we going to try this differently this time?"
      • by Kokuyo ( 549451 )

        We went from HP/EMC to IBM converged and from Vmware to Hyper-V.

        It was a costly experiment: First IBM couldn't get their shit running for over a year (with no refunds for us, obviously) and then they sold it to Lenovo and Lenovo did not feel responsible for paing for going back to conventional networking.

        The company supposed to install our Microsoft based private cloud took a look at the IBM hardware and went "I'll try my best". You can imagine how that ended up going.

        So we've spent a lot of time and money

    • by murdocj ( 543661 )

      I think you mean they know what they are doing... unlike the inexperienced people who replaced them.

    • Expense isn't the issue. OIder employees with similar experience (and similar compensation) are also discriminated against.

      It's really blatant in some of the ads.. "Looking for YOUNG, dynamic, candidate who works to deadline" has actually be used by someone who was stupid in placing their ad. Usually they use dog whistles or (Infosys) require your resume have the date you graduated high school (so they can cull you before you wall in the door - and yes it's illegal to do that).

      IT is incredibly low status,

      • Expense isn't the issue. OIder employees with similar experience (and similar compensation) are also discriminated against.

        It's really blatant in some of the ads.. "Looking for YOUNG, dynamic, candidate who works to deadline" has actually be used by someone who was stupid in placing their ad.

        I remember a few years ago an Australian startup, which was then hitting the big time, putting out a similar ad. Except they were smart enough to leave out the word "young" and just hint at it with "dynamic", "eager to learn", etc, and mention that they would be joining a "young" team.

        A couple of years later the company was in the news, complaining that they couldn't recruit skilled engineers

    • by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Thursday August 25, 2016 @04:24AM (#52767331)

      If they are good at their jobs, then they are actually cheaper overall, because the provide more additional value than their additional cost. If they are not good, they should have been fired for that quite a while earlier.

      Maybe if the IT industry would stop firing people that have experience, the products would finally get better....

  • Hell, I know a guy in his 50s who went into fetal position, rocking back and forth in an empty conference room, after being canned. Excellent engineer, but they have stack ranking at my employer.
    • by gatkinso ( 15975 )

      WTF. That sounds like a guy who needs to man up.

      Hey don't get me wrong, I am an old programmer... and I feel the fear. But rather than resort to a fetal position I am preparing for the inevitable.

  • by Joe_Dragon ( 2206452 ) on Wednesday August 24, 2016 @05:57PM (#52764989)

    fresh from school or "early career" = h1b

  • removed at age 62, and one from Texas, out at age 63

    How is this not a good thing? Is America that low on the scale of employee rights that they didn't get an epic win out of this? We recently closed a plant and made everyone redundant. One of the guys was 62 and on the day it was announced he opened a $10000 bar tab and made sure everyone drank for free after his huge windfall. He forcefully retired on a wheelbarrow of money.

    • by gtall ( 79522 )

      Wow!! Well if one guy can do it, they all can do it. Maybe you should tell them all this, I'm sure they'd listen to you.

      • No it's not a point of one guy vs another guy.

        It's a point of a country and a policy protecting and rewarding those who are vulnerable and who have shown the dedication.

        This example isn't one guy being lucky, this example is one guy being old in a country where forced redundancies get really expensive for people with a lot of age and experience which incentivises them to be kept on.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Zuckerberg's comment about not wanting people under 30 is the default stance of the tech industry. There's a reason we never saw a lot of people older than us in the workplace. It wasn't because we were a new generation doing new cool things, it's because tech has always been like Logan's Run.
    • by gnupun ( 752725 ) on Wednesday August 24, 2016 @06:34PM (#52765213)

      Zuckerberg's comment about not wanting people under 30 is the default stance of the tech industry.

      If that's their stance, that's like athletes, who pretty much retire around 35 or so. If they don't want old guys as programmers, better pay high salaries to young programmers, just like how athletes get paid. So they can retire or find another job when they are "too old."

  • Retire early (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Moof123 ( 1292134 ) on Wednesday August 24, 2016 @06:02PM (#52765023)

    Seriously, Tech is bit too wild west to trust over the long term. Live frugal and save like mad. Once you have enough money stashed away to guarantee you won't starve, then work if you want to and it all becomes extra FU money. You can't trust tech as a career beyond 50, and maybe not even to 45 in certain specialties.

    • My current plan is to own a house, and have it fully paid for. Once that is done, all necessary costs of living are just peanuts and I could live comfortably on less than minimum wage.

      I should be able to pull that off some time within the next 3 years.

    • Seriously, Tech is bit too wild west to trust over the long term.

      I think it points more to your government policies which allows companies to treat employees like disposable trash. In many parts of the world getting rid of an employee near retirement who has had a career at a company would be an insanely expensive activity that wouldn't pay for itself with H1Bs let alone with simply younger labour and that's before taking into account the inexperience young labour brings.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Where are these tech jobs that pay enough early in your career to save significant amounts of cash? Between rent/mortgage, transport costs, student loan repayments and general living expenses a lot of people can barely make ends meet.

      People starting out get pressured to go a minimum wage internship to get some cash, then a junior position that just about covers their ramen budget, because later in their career they will earn big bucks and it will all be worth it. Except now you are saying that they need to

  • by Anonymous Coward

    But may be difficult to prove without a smoking gun, email etc. Otherwise company will claim they were purging more expensive employees for cheaper ones.

    Typical corporate garbage, which is why no one in their right mind wants have a career now in Corporate America, b/c they know once they reach their 50's they become too expensive, outdated and replaceable in the eyes of Corporate America.

  • Haha America (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DMJC ( 682799 ) on Wednesday August 24, 2016 @06:16PM (#52765095)
    And the decline of the USA continues. Experience shits all over youth. At 22 I couldn't code for shit. At 31 I can do 20x what I could at 22 and my skillsets make actual money instead of junk. US tech companies are vastly overrated. I'd bet that 200 seasoned 40-65 year olds could build a much better OS than Microsoft or Apple could. And they wouldn't fuck up the control panel design either.
    • mindset issue (Score:5, Insightful)

      by kiviQr ( 3443687 ) on Wednesday August 24, 2016 @07:01PM (#52765377)
      true, but most 40+ would not sit quietly and work 80h/week on a poorly managed project. People with experience seen too much to stand by it. Some companies fix this problem by getting 22y/o and work 3 shifts for same pay. Some get better management.
      • Yeah, unfortunately, most opt for the former rather than the latter choice.

        • by gweihir ( 88907 )

          No surprise, because good managers have this issue that they do not take crap from the higher-ups either.

          • Good managers shield their subordinates from this upper management bs. Just a guess but companies where upper management is not right out of Dilbert are pretty rare.
            • by gweihir ( 88907 )

              From my experience, your guess is accurate. Fortunately, I have this experience as an outside consultant, and if they want me to work overtime to fix their screwups, I can smile friendly and tell them what my rate for overtime is. That ends the discussions pretty fast.

    • by sribe ( 304414 )

      And the decline of the USA continues. Experience shits all over youth. At 22 I couldn't code for shit. At 31 I can do 20x what I could at 22...

      Well sure, but by the time you're 40 you'll be so senile you'll barely be able to log in ;-)

    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      Matches my experience. Although coding is not my core-competency these days, I still do quite a bit of mostly pretty advanced coding at 47. Most of that I would have found much more difficult 10-15 years ago and pretty much impossible 25 years ago. And I have been coding since I was 14.

      One of the most important shortcomings of young coders is that they usually have no clue what was tried in the past and did not work or did not work well. Hence they are re-inventing the wheel like crazy and mostly badly. MS

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      I'd bet that 200 seasoned 40-65 year olds could build a much better OS than Microsoft or Apple could

      So why don't they?

      Build a start-up, make this incredible OS, get rich. My guess is that your definition of "better" doesn't translate to a product that people actually want.

      This is just ageism. If it were possible for 200 older developers to produce these amazing products, someone would have realized and tapped that resource by now. Self driving cars would be perfected, instead of having to wait years while the young whipper-snappers learn the lessons you already know and get their shit together.

      • Something being the best on technical grounds is not what wins in the OS market. Microsoft has proven that barely good enough is just fine. It is the other parts of the bussiness that engineers usually don't pay as much attention to that lead to wins, and that is why we never understand why sucky stuff wins.

    • by gatkinso ( 15975 )

      Managing a 200 person team is a fucking nightmare.

  • by plopez ( 54068 ) on Wednesday August 24, 2016 @06:21PM (#52765123) Journal

    then whine about not being able to find talent.....

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      They need 5 years experience on 6 month old technologies, for graduate wages, living near their offices where property prices are 5x normal. There is a severe shortage of people meeting that criteria.

      It's not just the US either. I get regular spam for jobs paying £40k based on Reading or London, where a £40k salary will buy you a shed with one light bulb and a gas hob for your instant noodles.

      • by Geeky ( 90998 )

        Funnily enough, a £40K salary in London would be enough for me, as an older employee. I've paid off my mortgage and the commute costs would be about £3/4K.

        I've got experience, I can add value and if the job was interesting I just need enough money coming in to pay the bills and leave a little over for the odd luxury.

        My point is that sometimes us older workers are in situations where we can be good value if we're given the chance.

  • It's that CEO CFO COO and other top execs wanted to break the law and pad their bonus payments at the expense of older American citizen workers

  • Now I'm sure that is curry I smell in the break room.

  • Put your money where you feel it's best-served... giving your money to companies that support (possibly) repressive and/or un-environmental policies need not be given more strength.

    If you're an older person that feels companies routinely practice this policy, then don't buy their product.

    There's more than one reason I don't shop at Wal-Mart... Whole Foods just made my shit-list.

    The worst part is, and I understand this all-too-well, how does one get internet without supporting Comcast, AT&T, etc.?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Executive compensation and excess is at an all time high, and yet they've convinced people to fight the elderly for the leftover scraps.

  • by shanen ( 462549 ) on Wednesday August 24, 2016 @06:51PM (#52765325) Homepage Journal

    Trying to decide whether or not to name names, but in a sense it doesn't matter. As near as I can tell, ALL companies hate old employees. Various companies have various reasons, but I think high-tech companies (like HP and my former employer) might be the most hateful.

    Experience is NOT an asset when no one has experience with the latest and greatest technology. Even if the old folks are willing to work as cheaply as fresh hires, and even if the old folks are fast learners, salary cuts are intrinsically demotivating. You can try disguises like "declining health", but they don't work well and job satisfaction tends to decline. Anyway, the bean counters at the top prefer fresh meat. Cheap.

    In Japan the situation is especially critical because the demographic transition is resulting in lots of old people and very few young ones. The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) has actually put out "guidelines" that strongly encourage companies to keep older employers who want to work until at least age 65, but the companies are just playing games with the rules.

    Without naming names, I'm going to try to summarize "a friend's" experiences. For brevity, AF. The managers started pressuring AF to retire around 55, but AF declined. AF's job and working conditions were steadily made worse and then AF was shoved out the door ASAP, which was AF's 60th birthday. The MHLW had a response. Rough translation: "They aren't supposed to do that if AF wanted to keep working, but tough titties."

    Anyway, I'm just an old philosopher, so I get to say "That's too bad" to AF. In philosophic terms, there are four quadrants to consider. Everyone wants to be in Q1 with good work and good compensation, and no one wants to be in Q4 with bad work and bad pay. The interesting cases are Q2, good work with bad pay, and Q3, bad work with good pay. AF wanted Q1 or Q2, but got shoved into Q3 and then Q4.

    Me? I'm just an old bum who's outlived my usefulness. Insofar as most of my career was spent in Q1 and Q2, I can't complain too much. However, at this point it appears that my best outcome is to pass away before I exhaust my savings. I would contribute more to the economy if my new focus wasn't on minimizing my expenses, eh? You'd think the companies might be smart enough to worry about the loss of business from all of those penny-pinching retirees, but they obviously aren't that smart.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Experience is NOT an asset when no one has experience with the latest and greatest technology.

      Experience ensures fewer mistakes are made no matter how "old" or "new" the technology in use. I would pass up five young inexperienced engineers in favor of a known good senior architect and senior project manager EVERY time and easily justify the decision to management. Same cost.

      Me? I'm just an old bum who's outlived my usefulness.

      Sincere question - why do you say that? Experience is supposed to bring value to the table. Are you not able to bring value to the table with your experience? This isn't a personal attack - genuinely curious.

      Myself as AC

  • Can a class of plaintiffs take action aginst a class of defendants? Dell needs to be included in this action too. Not like we're going to get any relief from the government.
    • by Khyber ( 864651 )

      Only if people from Dell have a similar complaint and then manage to come across the same attorneys.

  • by v1 ( 525388 ) on Wednesday August 24, 2016 @07:35PM (#52765535) Homepage Journal

    fresh out of school:
    + willing to work some to much OT without extra pay
    + will settle for less pay and benefits
    + cheap to replace if necessary
    + unlikely to give a big fight if fired ("easy to fire")
    + little to no lost assets if fired or quits
    + more open to new ideas and changing tech
    + cheaper insurance costs

    experienced / old-timers:
    + heavilty trained and experienced at their position. efficient. certified.
    + has learned "the big picture" in operations, understands subtle effects and can head off future problems
    + has valuable and possibly unique organizational knowledge (undocumented information and processes)
    + has formed working relationships with other employees, improved efficiency and communications
    + more reliable attendance
    + less likely to leave suddenly

    But the big issue I have with this article is how they act so surprised that a company more frequently ends up replacing someone with another person that's younger. Um, people get old. If you keep replacing your workforce with people of the same or greater age, eventually you're going to be running on a staff of people all hanging around retirement age. You have to get new blood in continuously, it's required for a business to continue. I don't see validity in calling "age descrimination" on hiring. On selective firing, YES, definitely. But not on hiring. I don't agree with the "equal opportunity employer" thing, I believe that a company/owner should be able to decide who they hire. Once you've established the business relationship with them, then some rules need to kick in, to avoid "disposable/throwaway employee" resource issues.

    A lot of companies seem to see their HR as a source of funding they can tap into when times get tough, "reducing staffing costs" by canning the seniors and hiring cheap replacements. This rarely works out well for them. They don't need government rules to bring the pain, they bring it to themselves. Radio Shack just got done committing "suicide by seniority-culling". They fired everyone that either was doing well or knew how to run the stores, and replaced them with cheap labor that was inexperienced, idiot, or both. (they did several other stupid things that are OT, but this was one of the "big three" that took them down) And down they went. It's a self-limiting problem. If HP wants to lobotomize their human resources, I say let them. We'll see them bought out under duress after they tank a few years from now by someplace like walmart.

  • HP intentionally discriminated against its older employees by targeting them for termination [...] and then systematically replacing them with machines

    On August 24, 2016 Skynet became self aware and started terminating those who were old enough to be a threat, or at least look up from their cell phone occasionally. Fortunately for humanity, John Connor (in 2027) sent Kyle Reese back in time to save them...

    Kyle Reese: You've been targeted for termination!

    Arun Vatturi: What? You're going to have to speak up sonny.

    Kyle Reese: Come with me if you want to live!

    Arun Vatturi:Sorry young man, my hearing-aid...[falls to the floor after multiple gunshots]

    Kyle Re

  • In Silicon Valley, employees feel the hot breath of age discrimination when they hit thirty.

  • I agree that it is BS on many levels, but it is what it is... an old story. This is the case for most older workers.

    I personally am positioning myself for the inevitable. Learn and actually use some new skills, have a decent work portfolio, learn some soft skills like public speaking, and so on. Pay off all debts, and saving my ass off... basically making hay while the sun shines so when that axes comes it won't be a catastrophe, and be able make do with a lower paying job.

  • Aren't prunes used to purge old workers?

The rich get rich, and the poor get poorer. The haves get more, the have-nots die.