Intel accused of age discrimination after layoffs

At Intel, your age may be the reason why you got the pink slip. According to a Wall Street Journal report citing documents it obtained from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the chip maker is being investigated for age discrimination claims by its former employees.

Report: average age of Intel employees in one layoff spree was 49

The Journal said “dozens of former employees sought legal advice on whether they could sue” after a round of layoffs in 2016, and some of those disgruntled employees filed complaints with the federal watchdog. At Intel, the average layoff age skewed older. According to an internal document the Journal saw, the average age of employees being laid off in one set of 2,300 layoffs in 2016 was 49 years old, an age that was seven years older than the average age of the remaining employees.

The EEOC would not confirm or deny whether it is investigating the chip maker.

Intel said the layoffs were intended to “fuel Intel’s evolution” and refutes age discrimination claims. “Factors such as age, race, national origin, gender, immigration status, or other personal demographics were not part of the process when we made those decisions,” one of its spokespersons said in a statement.

If EEOC finds sufficient evidence for it to pursue the matter further, it can start a class-action lawsuit against Intel. This is not the first time in recent months that a technology company has been called out for age bias. The EEOC is reportedly also investigating IBM after a ProPublica investigation into its employment practices. In the report, IBM was accused of getting rid of employees over 40 from their jobs by sidelining them, firing them, laying them off or forcing their rushed retirement. This past September, Facebook was accused of not making inclusive space for older workers in two lawsuits.

Age discrimination is happening more and more

Why do so many tech companies get tempted to flout age discrimination laws? Older workers can be expensive. Older employees tend to be more experienced and better paid than younger hires.

One report found that Silicon Valley favors younger hires in general. “The tech industry is hiring a disproportionately higher ratio of workers than non-tech up until the age of 48—indicating bias does exist that favors younger candidates,” the report found. Younger hires may cut costs, but ageist hiring practices are illegal. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act makes it illegal to discriminate against employees and job seekers over age 40.