Age Discrimination Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Google

A sixty-four year old worker represented by Kotchen & Low, DVG Law Partner and VK Vandaveer PLLC has filed a federal class action lawsuit against Google, Inc. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a proposed class of workers age 40 and older whom Google did not hire in alleged violation of Federal and California age discrimination laws. According to the Complaint, as a result of Google’s hiring practices and discrimination, the median age of Google’s workforce is 29 years old.

The attorney-author of this article, Michael Brown of DVG Law Partner, is among the attorneys representing the workers who filed the lawsuit, along with attorneys Daniel Kotchen, Daniel Low and Michael von Klemperer of Kotchen & Low LLP and Vonda K. Vandaveer of V.K. Vandaveer, PLLC.

Please contact attorney Michael Brown at 920-757-2488 or mbrown@dvglawpartner.com if you have any information or questions relating to the case.

Scroll or click the link below to review the Complaint, which details the case’s allegations that Google discriminated against job applicants age 40 and older in violation of age discrimination laws:

The lawsuit has been discussed in these news sources: ComputerworldHR GrapevineLaw360The Mercury News [SiliconBeat]Slashdot, and The Wall Street Journal.

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Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Tata Consultancy Services, Alleging Discrimination Against U.S. Workers

The attorney-author of this article, Michael Brown of DVG Law Partner LLC, and co-counsel filed a federal class action lawsuit against Tata Consultancy Services, Ltd. (“Tata”). The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a proposed class of non-South Asian individuals who Tata did not hire and/or who faced an adverse employment action once hired by Tata (e.g., termination, demotion, etc.). The lawsuit alleges Tata discriminates against individuals who are not South Asian (or of Indian, Nepalese, or Bangledeshi national origin) in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Civil Rights Act of 1866. According to the Complaint, as a result of Tata’s discrimination, its United States-based workforce is approximately 95% South Asian, primarily Indian.

The attorney-author Michael Brown is among the attorneys representing the workers who filed the lawsuit, along with attorneys Daniel Kotchen, Daniel Low and Michael von Klemperer of Kotchen & Low LLP and Vonda K. Vandaveer of V.K. Vandaveer, PLLC.

Please contact attorney Michael Brown at 920-757-2488 or mbrown@dvglawpartner.com if you have any information or questions relating to the case.

Below, you can review the Complaint, which details the case’s allegations that Tata discriminated against non-South Asians in violation of discrimination law:

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Determining Severance Leverage: Five Questions You’d Need Answered

If you’ve been presented with a severance agreement, leverage may exist to negotiate better severance terms and payment.  However, most workers who have such potential leverage do not fully realize it or benefit from it. Before determining (and using) leverage, one must first get answers to these five questions.

(1) What are all of your potential legal claims?

It may not be your goal to file or pursue a legal claim. However, the potential for a legal action, and potential values associated with a legal action, are usually the main driving forces that motivate an employer to offer a severance agreement and to negotiate thereafter. The main thing an employer “gets” from a severance agreement is the employee’s waiver of potential or actual legal claims.

So, do you know all the potential legal claims you should examine, to determine if your pre-severance circumstances (e.g. circumstances of discharge) violated any of their standards?

It is very common for employees to research some potential claims, but fail to research many other potential claims they simply do not know about. For example, many workers fired from a job will research certain Federal discrimination laws (e.g. review EEOC website descriptions of Federal Title VII discrimination claims), but fail to review all potential Federal discrimination claims (e.g. fail to review Section 1981 Federal claims not handled by EEOC, etc.), fail to review State-law discrimination claims, and fail to review the hundreds of non-discrimination laws, Federal and State, that prohibit job terminations on various grounds. For example, some workers who have called me about “discrimination” concerns had in actuality (after I reviewed their facts/evidence and many laws) had strong potential claims under particular anti-retaliation or whistleblowing laws, under certain wage or benefit related laws, etc. etc.

To examine all potential legal claims requires examination of a long list of laws, and usually a much longer list than a discharged worker has ever heard of.

(2) What value does for each viable potential claim have if it were won?

It’s one thing to identify a strong potential legal claim. It’s another thing to know what potential value exists if you were to win such a claim.

For example, a worker could have smoking-gun proof of age discrimination, e.g. he may have written or recorded statements from the firing manager, saying the worker was “fired because you are 70 years old.” But if that same worker picked up a job the next day that paid as much as the job he was fired from, the value of a winning ADEA Federal age discrimination claim, for that worker with all the circumstances above (including perfect proof), would be zero.

Yet some other workers, with less-strong (but viable) proof of age discrimination, have potential age discrimination claims with six- or seven- figure values.

You may be thinking “Huh?!” If so, welcome to the world of employment-law damages (money) assessment. Sometimes, the value of a potential legal claim in the legal world defies common sense in the real world. The value of a potential legal claim depends greatly on a particular worker’s circumstances, and one seemingly small circumstance can make a huge difference in whether someone does or does not have a potential claim with significant value.

(3) What realistic range of results is likely for each potential claim, based on real-world chances of success for those claims and real-world behavior of judges and others potentially involved in the processes at hand?

Some types of employment law claims in some legal forums, when statistically-analyzed as a whole, have very low odds of success. Others fare much better statistically. In my experience and observation of certain judges’ decisions, I am aware of a few particular judges who I have sound reason to believe dismiss over 90% of certain discrimination cases that they are asked to make decisions about. No matter how good a potential legal claim or its value may look on paper, the real-world value of that potential claim may be lower or higher based on the particular legal forums, actors and procedures associated with such a claim.  When I assess the value of a potential claim for a potential client, I consider these real-world factors along with the types of laws referenced above involving case merits and damages.

(4) Why should your opposing employer take you seriously if you mention potential employment law rights or litigation but you are not represented by a employment litigation attorney?

Anyone could tell their former employer, as part of a severance negotiation attempt, that they “could” get an attorney or “could” pursue legal action.  Actually taking these actions requires an additional level of commitment, time, and (sometimes, if a non-contingency attorney is retained) expense. Employers hear these “coulds” a lot and most don’t take such talk seriously or let it affect their severance evaluation. If you feel your situation is different than the norm, you should have very concrete ideas as to why; as a default matter, an employer has more legal and financial resources and experience than does an unrepresented worker that the employer fired.

(5) Is the final offer you’re considering a good one, in light of the factors above?

Answers to the questions above are helpful in identifying a realistic range of potential legal claim values, and range of severance values/offers you may make. But whether a final, bottom-line offer is fair and reasonable is a big determination in and of itself.

For example, sometimes (1) I will tell a worker-client– for whom I have negotiated with an employer and received an increased severance offer– that I feel the employer’s final offer is far less than the likely value of a case pursued in litigation; but (2) the worker still wants to accept that offer rather than take the path of litigation and its associated delays, risks, etc. On other occasions, I tell a worker that an employer’s final offer is in my view better than the likely result of litigation, but the worker nonetheless prefers to pursue litigation rather than accept the offer.

Either scenario, I think, is fine. It’s your decision what your bottom-line expectations for a severance should be. However, it is in your best interests that the decision be an informed decision, and that you have answers to the five questions above before making it.

Obviously, it’s in my interest to say that I can help answer the  questions above and that you can contact me (at no charge) to get answers. But more importantly from your standpoint is that you contact some employee rights attorney — whose expertise and out of pocket costs, if any, are acceptable to you– and get the information you need to make informed decisions for your benefit.

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Dangers of Bad Message-Board Advice to “Go File a Legal Complaint With ______”

Internet message boards about legal issues can be helpful for (1) general educational information; (2) looking for attorneys who seem to know what they’re talking about, so you can contact one; and (3) familiarizing yourself with issues that you could raise with an attorney when discussing potential legal rights. But message boards are usually terrible places to get ADVICE to ACT upon.

One common example of terrible message-board “advice”: the adviser who reads your question and replies you should “Go file a legal complaint with [name of govt. agency, etc.].”  Often, such advice comes from non-attorneys.  Sometimes, even attorneys will make this horrific and flip message-board statement to “Go file a complaint…”: when an attorney does this, it’s almost always someone who doesn’t practice in the area of law they are talking about.

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Wisconsin Bar Article References this Blog, Author

The Wisconsin Bar posted an article about legal blogging, and the article referenced this blog and me (Michael Brown, the attorney-author).  While the article’s audience is attorneys, it is good for you blog readers– non-attorneys and attorneys alike– to consider the purposes of legal blogs like this one.

Attorney-authors such as myself are motivated to blog, at least in part, to market ourselves and gain clients.  That’s the “selfish” motive I’m quoted about in the article.  I also speak about an unselfish motive: trying to help people who are unlikely to ever become clients.  Many issues I write about are for purposes of general information, and are not geared to any particular situation where a reader would be inclined to contact me or sign me up as an attorney.  Examples of this include recent articles about how a good case is like a three-legged stool, and about a study of employment discrimination settlement values.  These type of general eduction articles are not going to cause people to rush and sign me up, and that’s not the intent. There are some things that I just think are helpful to know, so I throw it out there, hoping it’s of some use, somewhere.

And of course, I write about situations where I am hoping people DO contact me with client inquiries.

In those situations, I do my best to approach client matters as win-win scenarios.  If I’m retained on contingency basis, I am paid when my client is paid more (win-win).  If another client pays me an out-of-pocket fee, I want that client to wind up with a greater financial outcome than what’s paid.  My clients are usually successful in those regards.  So hopefully, the “selfish” marketing aspect of blogging is bettered by the fact that win-win representation is the goal.

Which brings to mind a few parting thoughts.  You should always consider– and ask a potential attorney before hiring him or her, if you don’t know the answers–  these questions: (1) What does the attorney stand to gain from my matter? (2) what do I stand to gain with the attorney’s assistance?  The answers should be favorable for you as a potential client.

A final note about legal blogging– what you read is NOT legal advice! Can’t say that enough.  Blogs can be helpful in that they provide general educational information, and may make you consider issues you have not considered before.  But to get legal advice for YOUR situation and details, you would of course need to individually consult with an attorney.  And no, it does not need to be me, and of course it’s your decision in the first instance whether a given issue is important enough to you to discuss with any attorney, or to read any blog posts about.

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A Good “Case” Is Like a Stool: It Has These Three Legs

Workers often contact me, wanting to know if they have a good employment-law “case”.  Every situation is different, and this blog post can’t say if you have a good potential case.  However, there are some general factors that are usually present with good employment cases.

A very good attorney I know, Avi Berk, told me a good analogy for what makes a good case.

A good case, Avi said, is like a stool.  A stool has to have three legs. If even one of the legs is missing, the stool falls over and there is no case (regardless how strong the other two legs may be).

Here are the three stool-legs that support good employment law claims.

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You Seek an Employment-Law Answer: But Are You Asking the Wrong Question?

If you lost your job or were presented with a severance agreement, your mind may be riddled with employment-law related questions.

An example of a very common question: How do I request my personnel file?

What if I told you that most of the time workers ask themselves this question, it is the wrong question to be asking? That is,workers seeking an answer to this question– or seeking an employee file– are often taking the wrong steps and more often than not won’t help themselves.

There are several factors that often make requesting a personnel file a bad or unhelpful endeavor.

First, a personnel file is usually not useful for any personal or career purpose after a job has ended.

The file may be helpful if the employee later pursues a dispute or legal claim. But employers know this as well.  So employers often interpret a personnel file request as a signal the requesting employees want to sue the employers. Is this a message that you want to send? That you want to send now? If you just lost your job and have yet to receive unemployment benefits, you may not want to rile up the employer when they are in a position to contest unemployment. And if you are in fact planning legal action, you may not want to signal that to the employer at an early stage. An attorney may advise you to wait and request personnel documents later, perhaps during litigation, so the employer is not tipped off.

These issues and others rarely occur to fired workers seeking answers about personnel file requests.  But such issues are, in fact, usually more important than the common question about how to request a personnel file. (Incidentally, the answer is here).

The personnel-file request question is just one of many common questions workers ask that are often wrong questions to ask.

Before you get dead-set on pursuing a particular legal question or course of action, consider the possibility you may be asking the wrong question or going down the wrong path. Consider researching more legal information or speaking with an attorney if the issue is important or valuable enough to ensure you’re on the right path.

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