Age discrimination suit against Google will go ahead

The Supreme Court of California upheld an appeals court ruling

A court case filed by a former Google employee alleging he was wrongfully fired due to his age will go to trial, the Supreme Court of California ruled Thursday.

The long running legal dispute with Google was raised by Brian Reid, of Palo Alto, California. Reid was 52 when he left his job as a professor at Carnegie Mellon University's California campus to join Google in 2002, and court documents show he alleges age discrimination as one reason Google fired him.

His original case against the company was filed in 2004.

According to court documents, Reid alleges he had been called a number of names by fellow workers, including "old man," "old fuddy duddy" and more. Remarks from a written performance review also indicate Google was satisfied with Reid in his first year at the company.

The original trial court ruled that Google had legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons for firing Reid and issued a summary judgment, so the case did not actually go to trial. But an appeals court overruled, affirming the age discrimination argument, and said the case should see a trial.

The Supreme Court of California upheld the appeals court ruling for a number of reasons, but noted in particular certain emails regarding Reid passed between senior Google executives.

In his original complaint, Reid sought an undisclosed sum in damages, including a request to restore 119,000 options to buy Google stock at a strike price of $0.30, which were taken from him when he was fired.

Google has denied any wrongdoing and maintains that Reid was not laid off based on his age. "The Supreme Court today simply upheld the lower court's decision that the case should not be dismissed without a trial," Google said in a statement. "We look forward to demonstrating in court the legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons why Mr. Reid was let go," the company added..

(Nancy Gohring in Seattle contributed to this report)

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Dan Nystedt

IDG News Service
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