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Saturday, June 4, 2016

Attorneys and French Revolution

This weekend Mike Rogoway posted his latest article about the effects of the 2016 Intel Corp. layoffs on the OregonLive portal . The article is entitled: Intel layoffs skew older, spotlighting plight of aging workers.

In this article Rogoway is attempting to cover issues that so far have not been discussed in the press, namely distortions in the layoff selection process and age discrimination.

The article provides a chart showing how an employee's likelihood of being laid-off from Intel Corp. seem to be proportional to their age:




In addition to the above chart, what caught my eye while reading the article were the following statements:

It can be difficult, just based on raw numbers, to discern whether an employee is being targeted because of their age or whether it's just because they're paid a lot," said Courtney Angeli, who represents both employers and workers for the Portland firm of Buchanan Angeli Altschul & Sullivan.
That doesn't feel fair, Angeli acknowledged, but to prove age discrimination in court a worker needs to demonstrate it was their age that triggered their layoff and not some other factor. It would be rare, Angeli said, for a mass layoff like Intel's to be motivated by bias against older workers – after all, she noted, it's aging executives who are typically calling the shots.
Obviously, Courtney Angeli is not debating this point in court, through this argument; however, the logic behind the statement highlighted in yellow above, is screaming for clarification. When top executives are racking the bucks and are armed with bonuses and "golden parachutes", why should they feel connected with, concerned about the welfare of, or being compassionate towards, older employees? Do they make their decision on the basis of brotherly love, or do they operate based on what serves their own best interest?
Clearly, for a law office that claims to represent both employees and employers there could be a conflict of interest and they need to choose one side. Based upon the above statements, we can only guess where the law office in which Courtney Angeli is a practicing partner, stands.

I can understand that an attorney may not necessarily comprehend the significance of statistics. Stats is probably NOT a significant part of the curriculum in law school. However, I wonder if the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industry (BOLI) who have the authority to investigate, judge and prosecute age discrimination cases, can ignore the facts and the numbers. I wonder if actuarial information and statistics are beyond their scope too.

The job of attorneys is to represent the best case for their clients in court. It is the job of the jury to decide whom to believe, with the assumption that the jury represents the community. When attorneys pre-judge an outcome and demonstrate preference for big business and the "one per-centers", I suspect that justice cannot be served in this community or even in this country. At least not before a French Revolution style rebellion is taking place.
I welcome the EEOC, Oregon BOLI, Oregon State Bar and Courtney Angeli to respond...
--Dr. Flywheel

All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.

 --Arthur Schopenhauer

2 comments :

  1. Courtney Angeli seems to be approaching this from an employer representative perspective. And her comments need further explanation. Executive office ages range from 37 to 65 years with a median of 54.5. None of them were selected for involuntary separation. So the aging executives calling the shots appear to be unaffected. Courtney also states that "It's not unlawful to say: We're just paying too much money." However, Intel is not saying that they are paying too much money. The claim is that involuntary layoffs were performance based. So going back to the numbers, people over 40 were two-and-a-half times more likely to be flagged for performance than Intel employees under 40.

    ReplyDelete

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