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12/3/2010
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Apple Faces Age Discrimination Lawsuit

A former Mac Specialist at an Apple retail store claims that he was not promoted because he was too old.

In October, attorneys for Florida resident Michael Katz filed a lawsuit against Apple alleging age discrimination.

Katz was hired as a Mac Specialist at an Apple retail store in Millenia Mall in Orlando, Florida, during March, 2006, the complaint says. He was 60 years old at the time.

Katz claims that from the time he was hired, he expressed the desire to be promoted to Creative, a higher position at the Apple store. Over the next two years, there were several openings for Creatives. Katz applied for the promotion each time but was denied each time.

"Each individual selected for the promotions sought by Katz was at least 15 years younger than Katz," the complaint states. "Katz was passed over for promotion multiple times in favor of individuals with less seniority and inferior qualifications."

Katz was not provided with any explanation for being denied and his supervisor refused to acknowledge that he had applied, the complaint asserts.

Katz left his job in September 2007 and complained to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

The complaint alleges that in 2009, the EEOC found sufficient cause to believe that Katz had been denied a promotion due to his age.

Apple claims this isn't true. In its reply to the complaint, Apple's attorneys deny the charges and state that the EEOC's letter of determination speaks for itself. A copy of the EEOC letter was not immediately available.

An attorney for Michael Katz did not respond to requests for further information about the case.

Concerns about age discrimination in the tech industry have been around for years. A 2001 study by career site Techies.com found that more than two-thirds of tech professionals over the age of 45 believe that age discrimination is a significant problem. Almost one third of these respondents said they had witnessed or experienced an workplace incident that they'd classify as age bias.

Katz's claim of age discrimination at an Apple store is not the only one. An individual posting in February under the name "Tim" at dealmac.com describes how he was not hired at an Apple retail store because, he claims, " the kid who interviewed me seemed to not be comfortable with my age."

Other tech companies are dealing with this issue as well. In August, a former Google employee won an appeal in the California Supreme Court allowing him to proceed with his 2004 age discrimination claim against Google.

The appeals court ruling, which the California Supreme Court upheld, concluded "that Reid produced sufficient evidence that Google’s reasons for terminating him were untrue or pretextual, and that Google acted with discriminatory motive such that a factfinder would conclude Google engaged in age discrimination."

Google claims it had legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons for firing Reid.

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