San Jose, CA, Oct. 5, 2016 – Judge Beth Labson Freeman issued an Order today granting Plaintiff Cheryl Fillekes’ Motion for Conditional Certification in Heath & Fillekes v. Google, Inc., Case No. 15-cv-01824 (N.D. Cal.).
The order conditionally certified the following class of applicants: All individuals who interviewed in-person for any Site Reliability Engineer (“SRE”), Software Engineer (“SWE”), or Systems Engineer (“SysEng”) position with Google, Inc. (“Google”) in the United States; were age 40 or older at the time of the interview; and were refused employment by Google; and received notice that they were refused employment on August 28, 2014 through the present.
Ms. Fillekes alleges in the lawsuit that Google has engaged in a systematic pattern and practice of discriminating against individuals aged 40 and older in hiring, compensation, and other employment decisions, and that she, and other SWE, SRE, and SysEng applicants, are victims of Google’s age discrimination. Between 2008 and 2014, Ms. Fillekes interviewed with Google on four occasions, and each time, she was rejected following an in-person interview. In May 2010, a Google recruiter told Ms. Fillekes to put her graduation dates on her resume, so that her interviewers could see how old she was.
In her motion, Ms. Fillekes alleges that she is “similarly situated” to other SWE, SRE, and SysEng applicants who were denied employment by Google because of their age. Ms. Fillekes cites as evidence her personal experience, the declarations of seven other Google applicants, other complaints of discrimination against Google, and statistical data. Ms. Fillekes sought an order certifying her proposed class, and requiring Google to produce a list of potential class members to Plaintiffs’ counsel within 15 days to facilitate notice.
In her order, Judge Freeman granted Ms. Fillekes’ motion, finding that Ms. Fillekes “has made a showing that she is generally comparable to those she seeks to represent and has made substantial allegations supported by declarations and limited discovery that the putative class members were victims of the same decision, policy, or plan[.]” Judge Freeman dismissed Google’s arguments in opposition to Ms. Fillekes’ motion for conditional certification, noting that the existence of Google’s EEO policy which prohibits discrimination “does not necessarily shield a company from a discrimination suit.” The Court also noted that Google’s evidence should not be considered at this first stage of the certification process, but that “[n]evertheless, the Court  considered Google’s evidence and finds it unpersuasive at this stage of the litigation.”
Pursuant to the Court’s order, Ms. Fillekes and Google will meet and confer regarding the form and content of the notice to be sent to potential opt-ins, the appointment of a third party administrator, and the issue of generating a list of potential class members from Google’s data. Potential class members will receive notice by e-mail in the next month or two.
Kotchen & Low encourages all individuals receiving notice to opt-in and join the class after receiving such notice if they fit the class definition.