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Systemic Age Discrimination in the Tech Industry

April 12th, 2023
group of employees in the tech industry

The technology industry is known for being largely staffed by younger workers. At first glance, this might not seem like anything notable, as new technology is traditionally associated with young adults and many of the startup success stories of the past two decades involve younger founders. Upon closer examination, one can see another reason why there appears to be fewer older workers in the tech industry: age discrimination.

Age discrimination occurs when older individuals are treated unfairly or terminated specifically due to age, despite making the same contributions to the workplace as their younger colleagues. Under the Civil Rights Act and the Equal Employment Opportunity Act, age is a protected class in the workplace, along with race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and national origin. It is illegal for employers to discriminate against employees based on any protected classes.

A study by the University of Gothenburg found that workers over the age of 35 are considered “old” by the tech industry, while “young” workers are considered to be around 30 years of age. Common ageism seen in the tech industry is frequently based on an assumed stigma that older workers are “less interested in technology and more interested in management” due to a perceived lack of understanding with the latest technology, according to the study.

Between 2008 and 2015, 226 age discrimination complaints were filed against some of Silicon Valley’s largest technology companies. A 2018 report published by ProPublica and Mother Jones revealed purposeful and systemic efforts to push out older employees at IBM.

Former HP employees filed a similar suit against the company, stating they were dismissed under the company’s multi-year Workforce Restructuring Initiative, beginning in 2012.

A separate study by workforce analytics company, Visier, found that systemic age discrimination has been increasingly rampant in the tech industry over the past two decades, finding:

  • Individuals between the ages of 20 and 33 comprise 43 percent of the workforce as opposed to 26 percent in other industries.
  • Individuals between the ages of 34 to 51 make up 45 percent of tech workers versus 47 percent in non-tech fields.
  • Individuals between the ages 52 and 70 make up only 12 percent of the tech workforce, whereas they make up 27 percent of the workforce in non-tech industries.

The study further revealed that the average age of managers in the tech industry is 42, whereas the average age in other industries is 47. In non-managerial positions, the average age in the tech industry is 38, compared with an average age of 43 in non-tech fields.

Despite assumptions regarding age in the technology industry, older workers have higher performance ratings than many same-age counterparts in other industries. After age 40, non-managerial tech workers are more likely to maintain higher ratings than their non-tech peers. In other words, the proportion of tech workers maintaining high performance ratings increases with age, rather than decreasing as seen in other industries. Older tech workers also report experiencing the same decrease in promotion rates that plague workers in other fields, as tech industry employers hire more younger workers than older ones.

Philadelphia Age Discrimination Lawyers at The Gold Law Firm P.C. Represent Clients Affected by Ageism in the Workplace

If you have been negatively affected or displaced by age discrimination at work, you may be entitled to compensation. Our experienced Philadelphia age discrimination lawyers at The Gold Law Firm P.C. can help. Call us at 215-569-1999 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia and Pennsauken, New Jersey, we serve clients in South Jersey and Southeastern Pennsylvania, including Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, Northeast Philadelphia, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Lehigh County, and Montgomery County.

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