News

Age-discrimination lawsuit filed against HP

Class-action suit alleges widespread replacement of older workers with younger ones

Four former employees have filed a federal class-action lawsuit against the Hewlett-Packard companies for age discrimination, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court in San Jose.

The complaint, filed on Aug. 18 by former employees Donna J. Forsyth, Sidney L. Staton III, Arun Vatturi and Dan Weiland, names Palo Alto-based HP Inc. and Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company as defendants. The lawsuit claims the tech company has shed thousands of older employees while aggressively recruiting much younger employees to replace them while it publicly sought to transform the company from an "old" company into a "younger" operation.

In 2012, HP instituted a Workplace Reduction Plan that allegedly targeted older workers, affecting tens of thousands of employees across the country, according to the lawsuit. HP's publicly stated goal under the plan was to make the company "younger."

Meg Whitman, CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company and chair of HP, Inc.'s board of directors, allegedly stated a goal to change HP's "labor diamond" into a "labor pyramid" or a "quite flat triangle" with large numbers of young people at its base, according to statements made at an October 2013 security analyst meeting. She has repeatedly made similar statements, according to the lawsuit.

To reach her goal, HP's senior management team allegedly provided managers across the country with specific numbers of employees to be laid off and specific numbers of requisitions for new hires with a distinct pattern: shedding the company of older, experienced workers and simultaneously hiring much younger workers to replace them.

HP's human resources department also allegedly distributed written guidelines requiring 75 percent of all external hire requests to be "graduate" or "early career" employees. Graduate employees are those who are about to graduate or who graduated from college within the previous 12 months. Early-career hires were persons who completed their degrees and had up to five years of experience related to the job, according to the complaint.

An internal document also showed an alleged campaign of stereotyping. Anyone born between 1930 and 1946 could be considered a "traditionalist" who moves "slow and steady" and seeks "part time work." Baby boomers born between 1946 and 1964 were considered "rule breakers," and were thus undesirable, according to the document.

But millennials were considered considered highly desirable, with HP encouraging strategies for "integrat(ing) millennials into the workforce" and "educat(ing) managers and others on millennial characteristics," according to the lawsuit.

The companies allegedly adopted early-retirement programs under which employees older than age 55 who worked for HP for more than 10 years were encouraged to voluntarily phase out their employment.

Vatturi, 52, was hired in 2001 and worked on HP, Inc.'s internal systems to improve procedures in Palo Alto. In one instance, he saved the company more than $70 million through his ideas. He was one of the 0.5 percent of employees who received HP's top performance-review rating of "significantly exceeds expectations" in the company's employee ranking system, according to the complaint.

But shortly before his termination, HP moved him to a low-level data-collection position working with two young independent contractors located in India. He was terminated on Jan. 22, then he was replaced with graduate or early-career hires who were significantly under the age of 40, according to the complaint.

Another California employee, Staton, was working as a sales enablement specialist at Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company in Sacramento. Like Vatturi, his job performance met or exceeded expectations. But he was laid off in April 2015 at age 54 after being shifted to a team of new hires in their 20s. Several months later HP replaced him with much younger hires, according to the complaint.

The other two plaintiffs, Weiland, of Texas, and Forsyth, of Washington, were terminated at ages 63 and 62 respectively, after decades of employment at the companies. They were replaced by much younger hires under the workplace-reduction plan despite good performance reviews, according to the lawsuit.

Weiland was offered early retirement, but he declined. He was allegedly pressured by his supervisor, and when he did not take the offer, he was terminated through the workplace-reduction plan, the suite alleges.

The complaint alleges age discrimination under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, California Fair Employment and Housing Act, California Business and Professions Code and under state public policy. The suit does not specify the amount of damages, but it seeks an injunction against HP's alleged discriminatory practices and to restore all members of the class-action suit to comparable positions from which they were terminated. Alternatively, it asks for compensation of pay and benefits for the period remaining until each person's retirement age.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise said in a statement that the company "has a longstanding commitment to the principles of equal employment opportunity and age inclusion is no exception."

"The decision to implement a workforce reduction is always difficult, but we are confident that our decisions were based on legitimate factors unrelated to age," according to HP.

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Comments

28 people like this
Posted by No problem
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 24, 2016 at 10:27 am

I actually have no problem believing this bad behavior by HP is true. I would like to hear HP's defense on this.


48 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 24, 2016 at 10:49 am

Silicon Valley wants younger workers because their salaries are lower. Also, H1B workers tend to be younger and cheaper than US citizens. Cities need to worry about this trend because older workers are usually local residents. Hiring younger out-of-state workers to replace residents makes the housing crisis even worse.


47 people like this
Posted by almunday60
a resident of another community
on Aug 24, 2016 at 11:03 am

I was at HP over 30yrs but feel into this category in 2005:
" Baby boomers born between 1946 and 1964 were considered "rule breakers," and were thus undesirable, according to the document. "

I was not a rule breaker but a salaried computer support engr who stayed on a project until completion. My specialized IT job got dropped into a general pool and soon after that laid off (HP called it WFR -- Work Force Reduction)....I was offered
early retirement at my early 50's --- all my yearly evals were excellent to exceptional. and I was given a raise for merit before I got my lay off notice. I also had to sign a wavier stating that I could only get my severance package only if I did not sue hp...soon after most of my peers with long years of service were also laid off...


39 people like this
Posted by radar
a resident of another community
on Aug 24, 2016 at 11:06 am

I was terminated by HP in 2009 after 36 years. 8 other of my coworkers in the same department were terminated at the same time. 6 had 20 years or greater. We could not find an attorney willing to pursue


36 people like this
Posted by HasNotChanged
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 24, 2016 at 11:10 am

Happened to me. 20 years ago. Still happens.
Certainly not like nor comparable to race discrimination or gender discrimination, but nevertheless can be devastating to personal self-worth and future employability. Can make one rethink unionization for the professional (white collar) workplace.


34 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 24, 2016 at 11:26 am

A lot of "older" (age 30+) American workers are replaced by younger H1B foreigners, mostly because the foreigners are cheaper, but also because their visa is owned by the company, making it very hard for them to switch employers if they get bored with their current jobs. This has been going on for decades, but maybe discrimination laws are changing.


32 people like this
Posted by Dean
a resident of another community
on Aug 24, 2016 at 11:26 am

Not only putting locals out of work and aggravating an already existing housing problem, but also putting our water, sewage, and garbage situations into serious conditions (DEFCON 5 maybe?).

I am serious, this creates problems for the local people/cities/counties and the State!

It is only profitable for the corporations, their management and their stockholders, at everyone else's expense. Very typical of big business, and big government!

I can only wish the claimants GOOD LUCK, hoping they win.

The biggest problem with these situations, is that when the corporation's lose, the perpetrators get away Scot free, and get large bonuses, or a higher paying position at another big corporation! They should be held personally accountable for their actions, and have to pay much of the settlement out of their own pockets. Maybe this would make corporate management more sensitive to the results of their actions, when they are held to be accountable.

I know, "Dream on!"


.


41 people like this
Posted by Still ongoing
a resident of another community
on Aug 24, 2016 at 11:49 am

This is still going on in HPE. Open the lawsuit up to everyone. We are on our way out with the HPE/CSC so called "merger". They continue to recruit from colleges, send jobs overseas and hire H1Bs. Career folks, older, more experienced and higher paid are being let go.


26 people like this
Posted by ExHPEmployee
a resident of another community
on Aug 24, 2016 at 7:16 pm

I was an employee with 30+ years service when I took the 2012 early retirement offer. At the Division I was in Work Force Reduction occurred on a regular basis. Managers were allowed to hire only new college graduates as replacement.


22 people like this
Posted by Dean
a resident of another community
on Aug 24, 2016 at 9:18 pm

I should have added, "Age discrimination is alive and thriving, almost everywhere!"

Laws and rules, and even corporate policy may say it is against the law to discriminate because of age, but the reality is, "Age discrimination is alive and thriving!"

I believe once you pass 50, and are laid off, or want to change jobs, unless you know somebody who can hire you, do not count on getting a job.

I can't count the number of jobs I have applied for, and never received a response. At these same companies, I have spoken with hiring managers, and asked if they thought I would be eligible for employment with their company, sometimes I would directly ask, "Based on what you see, would you hire me?" The responses are almost always something like, without a doubt, definitely, in a New York second, etc. They tell me to apply online, and they will get back to me within 24 hours. I never hear from them, so I know it has to be the age, as I have a clean history, clean driving record, have held a top secret security clearance for work, I am a college grad with BSBAdmin, and BS Information Systems degrees. I would be happy at any hardware store, or home depot, or . . .

Tanks for reading!


.


25 people like this
Posted by Over at 50
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 24, 2016 at 10:14 pm

Nobody wants you after 50. It's a line in the sand that was dramatic to experience. Impossible to prove. You make it to the final two candidates and are rejected at the last minute. Social security expects us to work until 70 but no one will hire us for the last 20 years!


14 people like this
Posted by Nothing Lasts Forever
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 25, 2016 at 9:37 am

Nothing Lasts Forever is a registered user.

In the last two downturns, I watched several mid-level execs get laid off from HP and Intel.

In many cases, this happened just as their kids were starting college at Berkely, UCLA, Stanford, Boston U, etc.
These poor kids had their college careers ended before they started.


10 people like this
Posted by Job Inflation
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 25, 2016 at 9:53 am

Job Inflation is a registered user.

Companies go through life cycles. In the beginning, if they are successful they experience rapid growth. They hire lots of people who work hard and expect to get raises and promotions.

As the company matures, the growth slows and it is forced to look for ways to cut costs to fund R&D, expand into new markets and defend its market share from competition. When this happens, there are not enough resources to reward all the good employees who want to stay.

As the stagnation sets in, the internal culture turns septic as people compete for ever decreasing internal opportunity. The reality is also that the company does not need as many highly skilled and experienced people because the main business, supporting infrastructure and key processes have already been established.

Thus, executive management looks for ways to continue growth, reduce the size of the workforce and re-balance the mix of employees. They can acquire other companies with the resulting layoffs from overlap, off shore large parts of the company, focus recruitment on college grads or bringing in more H1-Bs or implement a GE strategy of constantly firing the bottom 10% to make room for stronger employees.

Sadly, all of those things make for a miserable career environment and very difficult to stay happily at one company anymore for 20 years.


13 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 25, 2016 at 9:39 pm

When you look at the shenanigans that have been pulled on Americans
over the decades it has been a "rush to the bottom" for 99% of people,
only a very slow and covert rush.

+ immigration, legal and illegal, H1-B's and otherwise.
+ offshoring, jobs being moved overseas.
+ attacks on the government to defund and weaken its ability to stand up for citizens.
+ pitting minority group against minority group.
+ muffling the media so that people cannot realize what is really going on.

If this had happened to the generation in the 60's when these policies were
being put in place would have affected everyone including older workers there
is not a chance in heck that we would have the situation we have today, but
these little creeping changes has changed the face of the country and our
society ... for the worse.

It was because they offered some senior workers to keep their benefits while younger
workers took the hits. Now it is older workers taking the hits and pandering to the
younger workers who are gloating about the older workers getting abused, instead
of actually getting paid.

When people are naive enough to only be out for themselves, over time everyone
loses. Now with the housing crisis people can make lots of money and yet not
be able to save anything or even afford to keep their jobs if they are not in some
special subsidized class.

And the promotions and big benefits are given to people who fit a political
litmus test as well so they will not attack the corporate culture or blow the
whistle on what is going on.

By the time things get bad enough to buckle, many many people will have sustained
injuries on multiple dimensions that the system will brush off as too big and
too costly to remedy, leaving the same people in charge with even more power.


6 people like this
Posted by Reday
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Aug 31, 2016 at 11:25 am

Link to claim:

Web Link


10 people like this
Posted by JustaNumber
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 28, 2016 at 7:42 am

I was on the border of Boomer and GenX. I was vocal about the layoffs of our experienced coworkers. So that put a target on my back. After more than 15 years I was sent packing to find a job during the Holiday season with two kids under 18. I was one of two people under 50 laid off that day. All the rest were over 55. I would love to list their name but I cannot afford the lawyer fees. They have over 20 years at HPE. They are about 50 or 51 yrs old. Of course they started implementing the plan more than 10 yrs ago when they were about 40! As you can see it has done wonders for HP and their marketshare/profits! I would love nothing more than to personally kick their ass. In business of course.... ;)


7 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of another community
on Oct 15, 2016 at 9:05 am

I was also recently laid off and believe it was possibly because of age and also for retaliation.


3 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of another community
on Jun 25, 2017 at 10:39 am

The current lay off happened recently. The very large percentage are in their 50s and 60s. Plus I believe nationality plays big also into the targeted layoffs. The replacements will be offshore now and less H1Bs.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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