The technology industry is often seen as favoring young hotshots over more experienced employees. Earlier this year, I wrote a blog about that preference, citing research from both Duke University's Vivek Wadhwa and University of California professor Norm Matloff.
It's possible that this inclination could cost some tech companies, thanks to a Supreme Court ruling which makes it easier for older employees to claim discrimination. The 7-1 decision shifts the burden from employees to employers to prove there was a valid reason other than age for firing older workers, according to a Reuters story.
The case involves a group of over-40 workers laid off from their jobs at the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory, owned by Lockheed Martin Corp., in 1996. The workers accused the company of violating the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act. In the original lawsuit, a jury found that while there was no discriminatory intent on the company's part, the layoffs did result in discrimination. A federal appeals court later sided with Knolls.
In his majority opinion, Supreme Court Justice David Souter noted that the decision would make it harder and more expensive for companies to defend themselves in age discrimination suits.