The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is investigating Intel for age discrimination, according to information received by The Wall Street Journal. According to The Journal, several former employees consulted attorneys about whether they could bring lawsuits against the tech company after a round of layoffs in 2016.
Nearly 10,000 employees were terminated in several rounds of layoffs from the company’s global workforce. Some of those former employees filed complaints with the EEOC alleging the layoffs were discriminatory in nature.
In one of the rounds, 2,300 employees, whose median age was 49 years old, were let go. The median age of the employees that were kept on was seven years younger.
Intel is the world’s second-largest semiconductor manufacturer. It’s processors power many of the world’s personal computers from makers like Apple and Dell. More than 100,000 people work at the Santa Clara-CA-based company worldwide. In 2017 it reported revenue of nearly $63 billion.
Intel says the layoffs were not based on age and were intended to fuel an “evolution” on the part of the firm from PC-chip manufacturer to a manufacturer whose parts power the cloud and smart, interconnected devices.
“Factors such as age, race, national origin, gender, immigration status, or other personal demographics were not part of the process when we made those decisions,” an Intel spokesman said.
Employment decisions based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability or genetics are against U.S. federal law.
Although older employees, who often earn higher salaries, are frequently laid off before their younger counterparts in most industries, age discrimination is especially acute in the technology field. The EEOC is also investigating accusations age-related violations at IBM.
The EEOC first looks into complaints, then decides whether sufficient evidence exists to settle the matter privately between parties. If no settlement is reached the EEOC often helps take the case to court, sometimes in the form of a class-action lawsuit.
If sufficient evidence for a settlement or a lawsuit is not found, the agency issues a letter to the original filers of the complaint, allowing them to file civil suits.
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