[Baypiggies] Agism Etc.

Roderick Llewellyn roderick at sanfransystems.com
Wed Feb 2 00:28:24 CET 2011

Hello All and most especially Glen,

Thanks for that posting, Glen. I understand your anger and such, and 
thanks for sharing.

Let me respond to some issues you and others have raised:

1. You probably have no legal case. I am not an attorney, but I have 
been around the law quite a bit including haveing filed or help fund 
many lawsuits (public advocacy in the latter case). Let me tell you that 
the Law is almost completely worthless for achieving justice. Obstacles 
are set very high, prices are outrageous, and company attorneys have way 
more time and money than you do. That being said, occasionally the mere 
threat of a suit is enough to get a settlement. You will of course not 
want to work for a company that you have just sued... you can just 
imagine what working there will be like. You might be able to get a cash 
settlement. Possibly in the Internet age, companies are more afraid of 
bad reviews than lawsuits. But I wouldn't bet on it. Remember six months 
ago or so that company advertising on BayPiggies that wanted people that 
were "young, aggressive, smart" or something like that? I called them on 
it on the list. Within a couple days, as I predicted, the internal 
recruiter had retracted their statement saying that they would consider 
all ages equally and that he was mistaken in his statement. Of course he 
was lying. Needless to say, there was no way they would give me equal 
consideration. Without doubt, the recruiter type talked to the company 
attorney, or it came to his attention, and he told them to retract it 

OK, here's why you likely have no case. You have to in any liability 
type case generally prove financial damages; this gives you what's 
called "standing". You cannot prove that they would have hired you 
anyway, even if they did not discriminate on the basis of age. Plus, 
since you are in the prime age group to be hired by these firms, it 
would be like a white person complaining that the firm he's applying to 
discriminates against black people. Possibly true, but that person 
doesn't have "standing" - in other words, he has no "skin in the game" 
(lol!). These small companies have a million reasons why you would not 
be a good choice for them. They want people who snowboard, they want 
people who drink lemon tea, they need people who are most similar to 
their customers (who happen to be high schoolers), whatever. Mostly they 
would just say "your experience is not a good match for our 
requirements". And how do you prove otherwise?

Almost all of the successful discrimination cases are based on 
statistics. For example, McDonald's has thousands of employees. Their 
employee base can be mined to determine how many women or blacks are 
employed, compared to how many are in the community or responded to job 
postings. Then a statistical argument can be mounted to show that even 
if we cannot prove that any one individual was not hired due to race or 
sex (i.e., would have been hired in absence of the discrimination), 
statistics prove that they must discriminate. Sting operations can also 
be used (e.g., sending two identical resumes in, but one clearly from a 
man, one from a woman, and test the results). But an attorney cannot do 
those things without significant funds, meaning that the targeted firm 
would have to have deep pockets, and your company is probably too small 
to bother.

2. "Programming Prime" and other such concepts: I would stack my 
programming ability up against anybody's! :)
Now it is true that most great scientists did their best work when 
young. But programming is not science, it's engineering. And when was 
the last time YOU invented a new sorting algorithm, a new data or 
control structure, or proved an important conjecture like does P = NP?? 
I certainly never have!

3. Considering applicants equally: this NEVER happens. It is simply 
against human nature. Study after study has proven this. We like to 
think of ourselves as above this... but we aren't. We all actively seek 
the company of those we view as similar to ourselves, although those 
similarities need not be based on race, age, or sex, or any of the other 
legally "protected" groups. You might manage it when you're just looking 
at resumes, because resumes aren't people. But the moment a candidate 
walks thru the door, your primitive brain goes to work, judging... 
judging... is he or she one of Us? Or one of the Others?

4. What you are doing, Glen, is the best thing you can do. Fume about it 
on BayPiggies. And DON'T be afraid to name names! I do! The best way to 
punish companies that discriminate unfortunately is not in the law which 
is basically toothless. The best way is to reduce their pool of 
candidates by publicizing their misdeeds. And to those who would 
complain that "that might be the action of one bad apple 
recruiter/employee and so you're unfairly punishing the firm", I 
respond: tough. Let them hire better people that they vet more 
carefully. The recruiter is judging YOU? He probably can't tell the 
periodic chart from the multiplication table. Did you ask him when HE 
graduated from high school? Then you could say "I'm sorry, you're just 
not old enough to judge me". What a laugh. It's like my walking into a 
downtown hair salon and having the hairdresser give me attitude cause 
I'm not wearing a tie, when I have a degree from MIT, co-founded part of 
Symantec, have a 2nd degree black belt in Aikido... and he's dissing 
ME!! hah hah hah

- Roderick Llewellyn

More information about the Baypiggies mailing list