[Baypiggies] Chompapps Etc

Roderick Llewellyn roderick at sanfransystems.com
Tue Oct 27 06:53:26 CET 2009

When I posted my innocent seeming question:
In your job posting, I see the following phrase:

  We are engineers, young, smart & aggressive

Is this intended as a statement of the desired type of employee candidate?

I was (hoping, wondering if? ) they would fall for it and actually say that 
they planned to discriminate on the basis of age, a protected class (at 
least some of the time as pointed out by Jeremy Fishman, thank you very 
much). I knew perfectly well that asking such a question would doom any 
chance I had of being employed there, but hell, I had zero chance anyway. I 
suppose the smart thing to do is to apply, and when I get rejected, get one 
of you young "rockstars" out there to apply, and then sue their butts. That 
might be my best strategy for making money now in the computer industry! I 
am considering asking my attorney about this posting.... legally, is an 
admission of intent to discriminate actionable, even before any actual 
discrimination has occurred? (my guess is no lol).. and of course the 
company will disassociate itself from Mr. Bott's statement you can bet. 
Tomorrow morning Chompapps will be calling THEIR attorney for sure!

I kept my "innocent question" short also because I didn't want to harp on an 
issue I had brought up before.

Now to do some harping:
As far as Alex's post is concerned, my understanding is that when forming 
any kind of business or partnership (let alone personal or religious bonds) 
you are unconstrained by law. You can also discriminate in contracting as 
that is B2B and is unregulated. I believe the only regulated relationships 
are what is considered "employment". I also suspect that if every "employee" 
had to be a "partner" and this was used as a method of discriminating 
against a protected class, a jury would see right through it.

We all know that these startup technology companies routinely DO 
discriminate on the basis of age and possibly along other axes as well. The 
problem is establishing proof in court. Most discrimination cases of any 
type are won only by showing statistically that, let's say, a much smaller 
percentage of women are hired for a given job class than would be expected. 
This means that only large employers (such as McDonald's), for which such 
statistics can be gathered, are likely to suffer any liability. For a small 
startup, hiring a few people here and there, they can always defend 
themselves by pointing to the individual differences between candidates 
other than the protected class difference (e.g., "we don't mind hiring older 
people, or women, or blacks, we just haven't seen any good ones").

As far as "rockstars" are concerned, I might make the following associations 
with them:
1. They use drugs extensively.
2. They have enormous egos, and think they know how to run the entire planet 
because they play guitar.
3. They drive cars way too fast, they're "aggressive"
4. They die young.
5. They have sex with anything that moves, and then move on.
6. They may make beautiful music, but totally lack any people skills... and 
they may even be proud of that.
Sound familiar? Is this a desireable employee profile?

More seriously, I think sometimes this connects to the above conversation 
about discrimination. Often companies know not to do what Mr. Bott did and 
directly state that they intend to discriminate. Instead they have more 
subtle messages, such as the following things I've seen in employment 
1. You must have a fast trigger finger in Half-Life.
2. We play loud alternative rock music all the time.
3. We really like snowboarding and encourage everybody to join in.
4. We are "rockstars"... (and unless we're talking Mick Jagger, they're all 
under 30 right?)
5. We are "young at heart" (remember that one from a month or so ago)
These messages are designed to tell people over 40 or so that they are not 
wanted. Remember we're talking software companies here, not snowboard 
makers, who might more reasonably want only snowboarding enthusiasts. The 
messages here have nothing to do with snowboarding, guitar playing, or even 
Half-Life playing (unless it's a games company)... they have everything to 
do with age.

I've seen other cases. Once many years ago I interviewed (with a headhunter) 
for a company that made software for police and fire departments. The 
recruiter carefully informed me that the actual cops with whom I would work 
were the ones who were pulled off the street because they were too violent, 
and were thus sentenced to desk jobs. And that these were the ones who hated 
homosexuals the most. He never told me not to apply if I were gay (it 
happens that I am)... he was telling me a little story about the customers. 
But the message was loud and clear.

Anyway, enough ranting for now, sorry for the long post.... Anyone got a 
Python job out there for people who are not necessarily young and aggressive 
(but who are smart)?

Thanks all of you,
Rod Llewellyn

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