Yes, justice does move slowly, but in the Google age-discrimination case it almost seems ironic.
U.S. District Judge Beth Labson last week set Nov. 26, 2018 as the trial date in a case brought by two over-40 job applicants who were denied jobs. One of the plaintiffs was interviewed by Google on four separate occasions. The case was first filed in federal court in San Jose, Calif. in April 2015.
In October, the court approved a motion by the plaintiff to turn the case into a "collective action," a type of class action, that allows others to join the lawsuit. People may be eligible to the join the lawsuit if they had an in-person interview with Google for certain types of software engineering jobs, are over the age of 40, and were rejected by Google from August 2014 through the present.
There may be a lot of work ahead to bring this case to trial. The parties in the case have met about a paying a third-party administrator to determine who will receive an opt-in notice about the lawsuit, according to recent court filings. Google told the court that it may take six to eight weeks to produce the names and contact information for the affected parties.
The plaintiffs believe there are thousands of people potentially eligible to opt into this lawsuit. But the parties were arguing over how inviting to make the opt-in notice. The plaintiffs wanted the notice to say, "Notice of opportunity to join conditionally certified collective action lawsuit to recover damages." But Google objected to the use of the term "opportunity," and the court agreed.
"The right to join a lawsuit is not an opportunity," wrote Judge Labson, who said the notice may be titled "Notice of conditional certification of lawsuit alleging age discrimination," or something similar.
But something that may deter people from joining this lawsuit is the risk of being on the hook for some of the costs, should Google prevail.
Google argued that the proposed opt-in notice should state that plaintiffs "may be required to pay a portion of Google's costs if Google prevails."
Labson noted that some courts have not required the inclusion of this language in similar cases, but agreed that "it is more accurate to indicate that the potential opt-ins may be responsible for their share of the costs if they lose at trial."
The costs may be limited to fees and compensation of court-appointed experts, compensation of interpreters, and other services. But details are still being worked out and those potential costs are not yet known. The parties will meet "to determine the appropriate language" in the notice, the judge wrote.
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