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Wednesday, February 17, 2021

The Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Issues Legal "Determination" Finding Intel Corp. Systemically, Violated Civil Rights of its Older Employees


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

 1858 Days and Still Counting

On February 12th, 2021, the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued a Determination letter with a legal finding that Intel Corp. systematically violated Civil Rights of its employees. The finding was issued in conjunction with the 2015 layoffs action in which 1,155 employees were permanently laid off, in addition to several hundred additional employees and managers who were forced to accept early retirement.

The layoff was the first step of a strategy, conceived by then Intel CEO Brian Krzanich (BK), to replace aging employees with younger and much cheaper newcomers. For Intel Corp., this layoff also marked the beginning of a five year spiraling down series of manufacturing failures resulting in the company losing its leading position in the semiconductor industry to multiple competitors.

A year later, (2016) Intel Corp., upped the ante and laid off additional 12,000 employees, most of them very experienced. Though the consequences of the massive layoffs were not immediately apparent at the time, by ridding itself of experienced employees Intel Corp. lost the ability to execute the reliable High Volume Manufacturing (HVM), which the company excelled at for many years in the past. Successful execution of HVM is the "make-or-break life blood" of all chip factories (commonly known as FABs).

You can refer to a previously published article on our website for further reference about Intel Corp. strategy for replacing its (older) experienced workforce with younger and cheaper replacements.

See:
Useful diagrams for explaining Intel Corp selection of employees for termination in 2015 and 2016 

Although the EEOC in its official capacity is charged with monitoring for employers' discriminatory behavior on a continuous basis, The EEOC claims that it was not aware of the employee discrimination case until one of Intel Corp. employees, who were affected by the layoffs, presented the Commission with indisputable evidence of systemic wrongdoing.

The individual who brought the EEOC's attention to Intel Corp. law violations is Ron Tsur, who prior to being laid off by Intel Corp., held the position of Principal Software Architect for the Electrical Validation Enabling Department.

Mr. Tsur worked at a corporate-level department with responsibility for validating, qualifying and certifying leading-edge (newly designed R&D prototype) computer chips, during the process of readying the silicon designs to move into the final phase of production, known as High Volume Manufacturing (HVM).

Note that reliable HVM process execution is exactly where Intel Corp. is experiencing severe problems for the last five years.

Is there a correlation between the 2015 layoffs of approximately 1200 experienced employees, the "follow on" layoff of 12,000 employees in 2016, and the subsequent Intel Corp. consistent series of manufacturing blunders? Coincidence?

In mid 2015, Mr. Tsur and his supervisors were shocked at the company HR move to lay-off Mr. Tsur from his job as part of the mass layoff. To Mr. Tsur and his management chain, the layoff notice seemed at first as an "administrative error". Nothing made much sense in the way that the company presented either the reasons for the layoffs or the way in which employees were selected for "termination".

The Intel Corp. HR mandated layoff edict was particularly puzzling to Mr. Tsur and his management chain. Since Mr. Tsur at the time, led a major effort to develop advanced testing and analysis methods that would enable the company to focus on identifying the root cause of the endlessly repeating chip failures, found during internal validation and testing of the (then) new 14nm silicon manufacturing process.

 

Ron Tsur delivering presentation at Intel technical conference during Summer 2015

During 2014 and 2015, Mr. Tsur, being the top Software Systems Architect within the Eelectrical Validation Tools and Enabling Department, was heavily involved in defining, architecting and prototyping, modern data analysis solutions that were aimed at significantly updating Intel Corp. (legacy) 20's Century chip manufacturing physical (electrical) test methodologies. These included among other novel approaches, collecting electrical behavioral data at Intel Corporation directly at Intel Corporation OEM factories, using "big data" analysis and deployig machine learning tools to establish cause/effect relationship on solid factual basis, using advanced "semantics-based" data collection.

The goal of Mr. Tsur's leading initiative was to utilize high volume, data-driven, testing and rapid failure analysis methodologies, taking advantage of 21st Century capabilities. This approach was among other things oriented towards saving ten of thousands of work hours, spent on manual fact finding, increasing the efficiency of the electrical validation process and saving the company tens of million of dollars, in addition reducing ambiguities in the data collections and analysis process. Mr. Tsur initiated his research "path finding" after became apparent to the Electrical validation Department staff, at the time, that the new 14nm and 10nm based silicon designs presented significantly new testing and manufacturing challenges, necessitating radically new methodologies and novel problem solving approach.

Immediately prior to his inclusion in the 2015 mass layoff, Mr. Tsur's department at Intel Corp. was focused at enabling the company to effectively identify the possible nature and root cause of the HVM problems that plagued the 14nm and 10nm manufacturing processes. Electrical validation work was routinely conducted during the R&D and early manufacturing phases of every company silicon product. It was also very common for the company to provides early samples of future products to its network of OEM customers, such as Dell, HP, Lenovo, Asus, Etc., during this phase.

Giving away "engineering samples" of early silicon, is common practice in the semiconductor industry. The intention behind this type of early sharing of partial-qualified silicon parts, is to enable OEM technical staff to get an early expeienece with new silicon functions and features, in parallel to Intel Corporation chips "maturation". Early exposure to even partially functional new chips, is very helpful to enabling the OEM design engineers to better evaluate and understand new product features, adopt better system integration doctrines and thereby cut down market readiness of their final consumer products.

However, in early 2014, significant "Head-Start" failures of silicon engineering samples produced an alarming warning signal with OEMs who began to seriously suspecting Intel Corp. ability to deliver promised new silicon chips for OEM new line of products, using the 14nm silicon manufacturing process.

Today, after more than six years of repeating HVM manufacturing blunders, this multi-year series of failures is already a well established historic fact. Intel Corp. excuses for its inability to overcome its production quality problems,continued  for long time to be presented as "technical in nature". The corporate PR machine was apparently, operating at full steam hiding the human factors associated with Intel Corp. failure to deliver reliable silicon chips to its customers. 

In particular, the long-term effects that the 2015 and 2016 massive employee layoffs inflicted on Intel Corp. internal organization and its ability to execute and produce were either ignored or shoved under the carpet, in order to keep company investments at bay.

In spite of his management chain's protests to the HR department, highlighting the potential damage caused by ridding Mr. Tsur expertise from the company, the layoff process inertia dominated the scene and subsequently, Mr. Tsur was laid off in mid-July 2015, alongside approx. 1200 of his peers.

It is not very clear if Intel Corporation actually gained a lot by firing 1155 of its experienced employees during July 2015. Today it is quite apparent that Intel Corp. executive management in 2015 did not consider employee experience as an asset.

It has become apparent that  CEO Brian Krazanich and his executive team viewed all employees as an easily replaceable "commodity", just like toilette paper and paper clips. Highly experienced employees no longer counted as the core "asset" of the company. unlike during the hay days of Intel Corporation, under the leadership of Co-founder Mr. Andrew Grove.

For reason that have never explained by Intel Corporation executives, Mr. Tsur's layoff edict was never given a fair HR legal review or a chance of appeal, as documented HR procedures required. Appealing management decisions, including layoffs notices at Intel Corporation normally included "Open Door  hearings" or investigations on part f the HR Legal department. "Open Door" appeal hearings during 2015, were well documented through official company procedures documented in the company's HR Employee Handbook. However, direct orders from Intel Corp. CEO and its executive management committee, (known as MCM) instructed the HR Legal department to block any such investigation or hearing as soon as employees were issued the 30 day termination notice.

The HR Legal Representative that Mr. Tsur contacted at the time in his attempt to initiate an "Open Door" hearing of his case, told Mr. Tsur that the order to block his appeal attempts came from the top executive echelon of the company known as MCM. Curiously, some other employees, were granted such hearings and some of them, actually received a right to appeal their layoff order. We have evidence that some employees who were initially selected for termination, actually successfully won a reversal of their termination, as a result of such hearings.

While still being on a 30 day termination notice prior to his layoff in July 2015, Mr. Tsur, who was 62 years old at the time and among other things is also an experienced data scientist, examined the content of the 2015 layoffs report that was issue to him along with 1200 other employees, as part of their layoff notice. (this is a Federally mandated report, knows a OWBPA, specifying the company job categories, and the ages of employees selected for layoff, vs. those who were excluded from layoff). What Mr. Tsur discovered from the official report, was the that there was a very conspicuous correlation between an affected (selected to be laid off) employee age and the probability of such employee to be laid off, as indicated by the OBWBPA report mentioned above.

Mr. Tsur's conclusions regarding the apparent age discrimination presence in the 2015 layoffs, were independently affirmed a few weeks later, when the Oregonian newspaper ran an independent analysis of the OWBPA Report and consequently, published an article, written by Mike Rogoway, highlighting the overwhelming age-related correlation demonstrated by the chart below.

From the published chart, Mr. Tsur who was 62 years old at the time of his layoff, found that his chances of being selected for layoff appear more than four times (4x) higher than an employee who is under 40 and (6x) than employees 30 year old or younger. Since both Federal and State employment laws, such as the ADEA, protect employees 40+ or older from age discrimination, Mr. Tsur concluded that Intel Corp. violated the civil rights of a large number of employees who were 40 years old or older. Mr. Tsur was one among the many.
 
Establishing that his employment termination was in fact unlawful, for multiple reasons, Mr. Tsur refused to accept the separation agreement that Intel Corp. (euphemistically name) "People Movement" department tried to coerce him to sign. He was not going to give up his rights for pittance, particularly since he knew very well that his employment termination was not only unjustified but unlawful too.
 
After spending a few months of researching the peculiar ways in which Intel Corp. presented the 2015 layoff in its communications to company employees and the company's PR statements, Mr. Tsur filed an age discrimination complaint with Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industry (BOLI) and the EEOC.
 
Note: BOLI (see: FEPA) acts as a paid subcontractor to the EEOC for registering and filing civil rights and discrimination complaints of employees charging their employers with unlawful conduct. Mr. Tsur's complaint was co-filed with BOLI and the EEOC on January 12th, 2016. That was longer than five years ago.
 
Mr. Tsur also provided Oregon BOLI and the EEOC with information indicating that Intel Corp. systematically violated both State and Federal laws, meant to protect employees from age discrimination in employment practices.

During the next 1,858 days, Mr. Tsur kept providing the EEOC with ample evidence of employment discrimination, legal arguments and first-person sworn witness testimonies, including those of his former supervisors at Intel Corp. Additional testimonies were collected from other company managers and ex-employees. Mr. Tsur epected the EEOC to quickly determine the merit of his charges, which were significantly substantiated.
 
The EEOC claims that the average time it takes to investigate and resolve a charge was about 10 months in 2015.
 
Mr. Tsur showed EEOC investigators evidence of systemic Civil Rights violations exercised by Intel Corp. that affected thousands of employees. This evidence initiated the EEOC investigation of the company and revealed suspicion of shady HR practices, as early as 2016.
 
However, as the years went by, without visible action on the part of the Federal agency, Mr. Tsur began sensing that he is being treated as an "enemy of the state" by the Federal bureaucracy, for his persistence of seeking justice for himself and his peers.
 
By all standards, the unusually long record of 1,858 days to process the evidence that Mr. Tsur presented to the EEOC, does not cast favorable light on the performance of the EEOC and its bureaucracy as a U.S. Federal Government agency. In spite of incurring significant personal sacrifices, Mr. Tsur persisted relentlessly to drive the agency to come up with case resolution, throughout the years.
 
After five years and one month (61 months, or 1858 days to be exact). The EEOC issued a "Determination" that Intel Corp. violated the age discrimination provisions of Title-VII and the ADEA afforded to employees of age 40+.

As of last standing, Mr. Tsur is seeking competent legal representation for his case, in preparation for filing lawsuit against Intel Corp. Mr. Tsur is hoping that public court trial will expose to the public, the rampant age discrimination that Intel Corp. practiced over a long period of time.

The Oregonian news organization that has been following up on Intel Corp. mass layoffs since 2015, recently published an article covering the current state of this case. See: https://www.oregonlive.com/silicon-forest/2021/02/intel-discriminated-against-eight-older-workers-in-2015-layoffs-eeoc-finds.html
 
Unfortunately, even the Oregonian article only scratches the surface of the the Intel Corp. case. It is very likely that a public trial will be the only avenue to expose the full extent of Intel Corp. unlawful employment practices while also highlighting how both the State and Federal agencies that are in charge of employment law enforcement in our country are completely broken and are systematically set to fail employee plaintiffs attempts to achieve justice. 
 
Considering the ADEA, that last major law governing protection of employee civil rights in the U.S. was written in 1967 and all attempts to revise this law were systematically quashed by lobbying campaigns financed by large corporations, the U.S. Congress lack of remedial action is also a major part of a long enduring problem.

Important Notes

Recently, key investor Three Point LLC warned Intel Corp. and threatened to begin installing new members on Intel’s board if the company didn’t take steps to address its “human capital management issue” and manufacturing delays.
 
Let me be clear on this point: corporations are not people and I have no animosity towards Intel Corp. as a (non-person) business entity. On the other hands, employees and company executive officers are people. People make mistakes and even commit crimes and atrocities that have consequences. When operating within the context of for-profit business corporations, company managers and executive officers are responsible for their own individual actions; however, in addition to that, the corporation caries liability for its managers and executives actions.
 
The layoff of thousands of experienced employees, some of them at key positions (like Mr. Tsur who had direct expertise in monitoring and systemically analyzing the 14nm FAB failures), robbed the company of valuable human assets. Due to this mass employees departure, "human capital" with pertinent long-term expertise of system knowledge and problem solving was permanently lost to the detriment of Intel Corp., affecting the company's abilities to execute most of its missions.
 
Very unwisely and perhaps also illegally,, CEO Krzanich ordered that the HR department mark the personal record of each laid off employee with a "special code", barring all laid off employees from being rehired by Intel Corp., for life... This move insured that the "human capital loss" become permanent!
 
IT employees who worked at the company at the time testified that the BK "special code" inserted into personnel files, actually tagged all employees who were laid off in July of 2015, as "thieves". This insured that the HR department will be "signaled" each time that a hiring manager attempts to hire an employee that was included in the 2015 layoff, and subsequently, block the potential employee re-hiring through "automatic decree".
 
Secretly "profiling" employees and attributing unproven criminal charge on their personnel record is a serious offense. This specific allegation was brought to the attention of the EEOC investigators and publicized on our web site in 2019 (see: https://www.pdx-tie.org/2019/06/intel-corp-marked-employees-as-thieves.html). 
 
We have no notion if the EEOC ever investigated the facts behind this specific charge. If the agency did not investigate the specific facts associated with the above mentioned "employee profiling", perhaps the EEOC becomes complicit in the violation.
 

You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.

Abraham Lincoln

 
The evidence of Intel manufacturing systems failures beginning immediately following the mid-year 2015 layoffs is indisputable. For those of us who spent our careers in the semiconductor industry, Intel executives' false moves, to coverup its crumbling manufacturing capacity, as a "technical issue" seem rather pathetic. 
 
Instead of recognizing the devastation of the company internal culture, following the 2015/2016 mass layoffs as root cause, they resorted to cheap hiring practices and bad external acquisitions, all seemingly frivolous actions, lacking business sense and allowing Intel competitors to displace Intel from its leadership position in the semiconductor industry.
 
Even after disgraced CEO krzanich was fired from his position and replaced by another CEO, the loss of "experienced human capital" was devastating. Intel Corp.was not able to make up any gains in execution at the FABs. Using the cheaper and inexperienced young workers to fill up the company ranks and the loss of many experienced "mentors", sunk employee moral to the bottom, deepened the distrust between the "rank and file employees" and executive management. Ignorance, loss of personal motivation and shear incompetence displaced the "Intel Culture" that was the life-blood of Intel Corp. during its hey days.
 
Treating employees as "commodity" rather than as an "essential asset" had a corrosive long-term effect. Exploiting cheap "indentured laborers" through H1B visas and "green card" sponsorship, in addition to employing "foreign labor interns" who earned very little money under the OPT program was another way for Intel Executives to cut labor costs. Who of these executives really cared about "company culture" as being essential for achieving execution results? Quality and cohesiveness of the company "human capital", were not even part of the picture for these executives, in their zeal to collect their annual executive bonuses.
 
 "Swan Wars - The Empire Strikes Backwards"
 
No wonder that Mr. Swan (an accountant by trade) who succeeded BK as Intel CEO was unable to put the genie back in the bottle in the aftermath of his predecessor's blunders. In spite of correctly identifying the company's main problems as employee culture-deterioration related, not much could be repaired, without radical course correction to reestablish employee trust in executive management.
 
 
Even the new CEO's best intentions and grand declarations had limited effect, due to the permanent decimation of the old "Intel Culture" practitioners. Mr. swan's bookkeeping mastery may have kept the stock holders at bay for a while longer; however, from many external points of view his efforts could be depicted as: "Swan Wars - The Empire Strikes Backwards"...
 
The genie is not anything that you want (or can) mess with
 
Transactional HR policies initiated to save the company money in the short term, by trading older (and more expensive) with cheaper, inexperienced younger replacements (NCGs in "Intel Speak"), resulted in major backfires due to the disastrous HR practices and edicts, initiated by Intel Corp. CEO Krazanich and the abysmal degree of supervision on the part of Intel Board of Directors.
 
Trained Labor "Shortages"
 
All employees laid off en-mass during the 2015/2016 massive layoffs and were forced to sign separation agreements that excluded them from being rehired by Intel Corp. for the rest of their lives. At the same time, Intel Corp. claims that it cannot find enough qualified employees in the U.S. and therefore lobbies the U.S. State Department to import tens of thousands of cheap foreign workers, through H1B visa sponsorship programs, "Green Card" sponsorship and foreign worker "internship programs", known as Optional Practical Training (OPT).
 
National Security

Intel Corp. is also mobilizing its high-powered PR machine to convince the current U.S. Government to "donate" our tax payer's money to subsidize their manufacturing facilities to the tune of tens of Billions of dollars. Currently Intel Corp. maintains multi-billion dollar facilities in the following location in:
  • Dalian, China - FAB Production Site
  • Shanghai, China - assembly and test site
  • Chengdu, China - assembly and test site
In addition to other facilities in:
  • San Jose, Costa Rica
  • Kulim, Malaysia
  • Penang, Malaysia
  • Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Suddenly, semiconductor manufacturing becomes a matter of National Security. Never mind the multi-billion dollar investment that Intel Corp. that Intel Corp. invested in China over the last decade. Apparently, National Security was not considered a problem until after Intel Corp. began experiencing business losses stemming from laying off their domestic, experienced (and older) employees...
 
To some politicians it makes sense to subsidize large corporation that lay off their domestic experienced employees and replace them with imported foreign labor, financed by our taxpayer's dollars!
 
Corrective Actions
 
Hopefully, and for the benefit of ex-employees who were wronged by the company, as well as for the well-being of current employees, in addition to the future benefit of Intel Corp. stock holders, Pat Gelsinger, the new appointed CEO will see good reasons to negotiate a fair settlement with wronged ex-employees, correct HR procedures regarding hiring and firing and release the company stock holders from liabilities imposed by BK's terrible legacy.

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Intel Corp. Executives
Shady or even Criminal Behavior

We have covered the massive age discrimination practices that resulted in forced retirements and massive layoffs of older Intel Corp. employees in 2015, 2016 and beyond. When I talk face-to-face with members of PDX-TIE.ORG or other ex-Intel employees (less frequently, due to COVID-19) I am surprised about their ignorance regarding the fact that the company is faced with so many very significant lawsuits due to various shady and perhaps criminal behavior of its senior executives and the board of directors.

From my own perspective, the 2015/2016 layoffs were the event that "broke the camel's back" and proliferated the seeds of corruption and mistrust between Intel Corp. Executive management and the remainder of employees workforce.

While the "Executive Class" at Intel Corporation looked at their bonuses and the stock market evaluation of the company as their main goal, they lost their "moral compass" to unproductive finger-pointing, coverup and greed. Make no mistake, technological challenges always abound in the engineering world. This is why people who pursue engineering as a career, typically belong to "problem Solver" personality class. The main challenge for true engineers (not "engineers" in title or even by university degree) is to get their managers to overcome their "risk aversion" and "cover your ass" attitude. Technology may be challenged by rules of physics; however, management and particularly Executive Management is challenged by human behavioral factors that are essentially all "man-made".

The old "Intel Culture" defined the path for coexistence between both "risk taking" (as in venturing to achieve extremely high goals) and "risk management" (challenging the validity of ideas based on data or provable facts through the "constructive confrontation", rules of debate). These principles were the core values of the company and enabled its workforce to great achievements, through "thick and thin", while facing both technological challenges as well as tough competition in the Semiconductor market segment.

The great principles of "Intel Culture" were eroded, slowly but surely, over a long period of time,after Andrew Grove was replaced as CEO of the company by a series of successors.

The worst Intel Corp. CEO without a doubt was Brian Krzanich (BK), who did not only violate the basic principles of "Intel Culture", but actually made a great effort to overrule and wipe it out in his zeal to receive his Executive Bonuses. It is ironic that BK was forced to resign his post as CEO, due to blatant violation of the the Employee Handbook--the same operational handbook that spelled the rules of "Intel Culture".(see: https://www.pdx-tie.org/2018/06/mf-intel-ceo-resignation-raises-more.html)

The major side effect of getting rid of experienced (and older) employees, who grew up on principles known as "Intel Culture" (attributed to ex-CEO Andrew Grove), was the erosion of the company founders values. "Intel Culture" promoted transparency and discipline from employees at all levels, including the Executives level of offices up to the CEO level.

The sudden disappearance (due to forced "early retirement" and massive layoffs) of older employees (who themselves grew up on "Intel Culture"), left  the younger generations of Intel Corp. employees, who replaced the "old timers", having to learn their way around the various company operations, on their own.

The Intel Corp. Executive Class was so detached from reality that they believed in younger replacement employees' ability to ramp-up on-their own, without the benefit of experienced employees, being around to consult and guide the newcomers (in Intel speak the "NEOs"). Apparently, these executives believed that product design engineers and Fab workers can perform their job by watching YouTube videos and sharing messages through Twitter or Facebook.

 

Over the last five years, we have seen plenty of evidence to the aftermath that was left following the 2015/2016 layoffs, as the "transparency" "Open Door" "problem ownership" and "constructive confrontation" elements of Grove's "Intel Culture" were replaced by coverup and severe suppression of facts, in addition to the fabrication of "fake news, public relations campaigns" designed to keep both company employees and stock holders, at bay.

Unfortunately, there are too many similarities of Executive Class behaviors in corporate America that are created by people whose self-interest and greed, end up working against the company's long-term interests as well as the company employees best interests.

The Boeing B737MAX program fiasco, has so many parallels to the Intel story, in terms of Corporate Executives forcing their way on their underlings by decree and without listening to employees feedback. Between the Boeing case and the Intel Corp. case there is only one exception: thus far (as far as we know) Intel Corp. actions did not result in the loss of human lives.

Currently, there are  a number of legal processes undergoing against Intel Corp., which allegedly, involve anything, from mismanagement of the old employee pension fund (that was in effect until 2009), to long-term coverup of functional "bugs" that are "featured" into the Intel chips "Architecture", to making false statement to stock holders and potential stock holders of INTC equities.

The most significant decision of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) to allow the law suite against Intel Corp. "old pension fund", originally filed in 2015 by former Intel engineer Christopher Sulyma, to proceed without delays. This should be the talk of the day. For some reason, this law suit is not getting much attention in the press.
 
Since the Sulyma Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) legal case reached the SCOTUS level of jurisdiction, it is easy to understand that Intel Corp. legal defense strategy is and has always been, based on eroding the resolve of individual plaintiffs, by resorting to legal maneuvering, stalling, and outright lying.

I believe that every current or ex-employee of Intel Corporation, as well as current or past investors of INTC shares, should follow-up on these articles:

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

For The Last Five Years
They Continue to Wish We Were Dead

Today, July 15th, 2020 marks the fifth anniversary date for the first Intel Corp. massive layoff of the 21st century. 2015 also represents the year in which Intel Corp. lost its leadership position within the semiconductor industry, due to a continuous wave of operational flops and process-engineering disasters, most of them due to bad management decisions and a rising wave of mistrust between management and employees.

Intel Corp. 2015 Layoff Action
 Age Composition of Affected Employees

Intel Corp. management, under the leadership of CEO Brian Krzanich (BK) focused on lowering the cost of labor by laying off thousands of veteran employees, instead of fixing organizational and technological issues that plagued the company for many years. The company was unable to fix its high volume manufacturing (HVM) problems for chips manufactured in 14nm for longer than five years. The follow-up 10nm production line never matured into commercial viability. This type of phenomenon never happened at Intel Corp. at anytime in the past. Having the benefit of hindsight today, this colossal inability to deliver reliable silicon products, can clearly be attributed to the scarcity of technical and organizational leadership among the remainder of the company engineering workforce, following the 2015 and 2016 massive layoffs. 
 
Laying off more than 16,000 employees, many of them in senior grades with decades of experience under belt, was a very costly business move. Intel Corp. replaced experienced employees with much cheaper and inexperienced workforce. Company executives apparently had a notion that their veteran workforce was nothing but an easily replaceable commodity. The immediate result of the mindless mass layoffs created bad employee morale, lack of trust, led to operational chaos and penalized the company with enormous lack of productivity--a great deal of which still persists inside the company to this day.
 
In spite of external criticism of his actions, CEO Brian Krzanich continued to prove his leadership incompetence for a few more years of spiraling chaos, during which Intel Corp. lost its credibility as well as its world leadership position as a result of the company's inability to deliver on its promises to its customer base.  
 
Fighting the sinking reality of the semiconductor market slipping away, year after year, Intel Corp. expensive PR campaign to save face, met its eventual limits. Due to ever repeating lack of meaningful operational results, Intel Corp. Board took action and fired BK in June 2018.
 
To protect INTC stock value, the Board explained the firing of BK with a "Roger Stone style story" utilizing a sexy connotation that was meant to distract public attention from the incompetence of Intel Corp. C-Suite as well as the incompetence of the company Board of Directors itself.
 
Apparently egomania and greed can never be satisfied. Even after leaving his CEO position with the company, Krazanich himself is under SEC investigation for insider trading of Intel stock. Regrettably, as we have witnessed over the last decades, how U.S. Government agencies seem to operate more like "paper tigers" than "Rambo". Rich executives can continue to live the high life as long as they keep paying their "high shelf" high hourly rate lawyers.

Ex-Intel CEO Lists Lavish Silicon Valley Compound

Intel Corp. worst legacy is still lying ahead. In its hasty effort to restructure its workforce the company laid off thousands of older workers, as well as forced many more thousands of senior employees to retire under duress. By doing so, Intel Corp. management violated the civil rights of older workers ("older workers" defined as employees who are 40 year old or older). Such workers are classified by Federal regulations as a "protected class", which requires employers to take specific actions before laying them off.
 
Specific U.S. Employment Law rules and regulations were set in place to protect  employees aged 40+ from discriminatory practices. Most of such protection rules are defined in the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, otherwise known as the ADEA.
 
Although employers are allowed to lay off older employees, the ADEA specifically requires employers to follow employment practices meant to guarantee that older employees are not to be discriminated against during the whole course of their employment as well as during the hiring and/or firing process.

dhillon_scaled
Janet Dhillon - EEOC Chair

Members of PDX-TIE.ORG filed and brought forward substantial evidence that Intel Corp. knowingly violated the ADEA in many ways, during the course of Mr. Brian Krzanich rein as Intel Corp. CEO. Charges written by members of our organization (PDX-TIE.ORG), submitted and filed with the Federal government Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in 2016 are in full progress of investigations.
 
We recently received yet another confirmation that the EEO investigation is still in "active" state. It is already more than 4-1/2 years since our charges have been filed and the clock keeps ticking on the Federal investigation. Amazingly, Janet Dhillon, the Chair of the EEOC, appointed by President Donald Trump in May 2019, testified under oath in a hearing in front of congress:

It is the sad reality that too often, justice delayed is justice denied. Evidence can be  misplaced, and memories fade with the passage of time. The opportunity to quickly stop and remedy a discriminatory practice can also be lost – potentially to the detriment of other impacted employees. To ensure quality service, it is critical that private sector charges and federal complaints are handled promptly and fairly – and so we must work to reduce backlogs across all program offices.

Shall we take her for her word? Do words stated under oath inside the halls of the U.S. Congress, have a meaning if not translated into enforcement actions?

One of the advertised policies of the EEOC over the last few years was "working with employers", namely convince employers to police themselves, in matters associated with employees age discrimination in the workplace. In the words of EEOC Chair she is driving the EEOC to pursue a "Litigation Last" policy namely, avoiding law enforcement, seemingly at all costs to the U.S. Government. This type of "soft talk, self policing" methodology has been exercised extensively, by another Federal agency, the FAA. The results of such actions (or lack thereof) turned out to disastrously manifest their outcome in the Boeing 737MAX fiasco.
 
The result of forfeiting external supervision on large corporations and "letting the dogs guard the hen house" cost the lives of hundreds of innocent people and at the same time pushed the Boeing company to the brink of bankruptcy. There are very serious lessons to be learned from this story. Lack of external supervision and dereliction of duty on the part of Government Oversight, unavoidably leads to a situation where everyone, corporations, clients, employers and employees turn to become big losers.

With the above being said and judging from the "snail's pace" at which justice for older employees affected by the Intel Corp. layoffs is being pursued, many of us may be dead already, before Intel Corp. is brought to justice by the Federal Government. Many of us are older and form the most vulnerable segment of the U.S. population at risk for COVID-19 severe infections and ultimately death.
 
Clearly, the political and the corporate echelons would rather wait and see us (the "problem" in their view) vanish into oblivion, as more of our members meet their demise. With no proactive actions on the part of the U.S. Congress, and with the EEOC forfeiting their law enforcement actions, dereliction of duty continues to rule the day.

Latest unemployment Trend Charts
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The latest unemployment data report clearly demonstrates that the U.S. is in the middle of a major economic trough, following the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the circumstances, it is very likely that many workers, particularly those aged 40 and older, will never return to their original jobs. This situation presents employers with the perfect opportunity to "weed out" their most expensive employees, which in most cases are the most senior and experienced, namely "older", replacing them with younger and certainly "cheaper" workers. Past experience demonstrates clearly that commercial corporations that view their workforce as "replaceable" commodity, tend to fail "big time", while business entities that treat their employees as an "asset" tend to flourish. Look at IBM, GE, and of course Intel Corp.

It is important to note that in most companies, older employees serve as de-facto mentors to younger and less experienced employees. The value of mentoring has been proven to be a major contributing factor to the success of business. Clearly, with proper management policies, a good balance of employee diversity is not only required by employment laws--it actually contributes to cohesion of the workforce and increased productivity.

Unfortunately and to detriment of many companies, for the average C-Suite executive, having mostly inexperienced workers onboard, does not seem be an issue of great concern. By the time that the business begins experiencing serial operational failures after getting rid of its experienced workers, the executives have already harvested their mega bonuses and pulled their "golden parachute" cords to pursue "new opportunities"...

Intel Corp. serves as a perfect example of a company that "lost its soul" due to getting rid of its "experienced" workforce, while rewarding its egocentric executives with fat monetary rewards. It may have taken five years to note the destructive effect of the 2015/2016 massive layoffs; however, it is now widely recognized that the "Intel Empire" is collapsing from the inside, due to so called "cultural" problems. (see: Intel’s Culture Needed Fixing. Its C.E.O. Is Shaking Things Up. Robert Swan, who leads the world’s biggest chip maker, is pushing his 110,000 employees to confront internal problems more openly).

During these days when the world is facing a major pandemic, it may be convenient to ignore problems that could have made headlines in the past. However, it is futile to deny the demographic trends in the U.S., which clearly show the working population is getting significantly older.

Workforce-age Group Composition
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OLD at 40 YEARS of Age?
 
Remember what we said earlier in this article about the ADEA defining older workers as those who are 40+ years of age? Well, if this fact eludes you for one reason or the other, Millennials, namely people who were born between 1980 and 2000 are in the process of entering this class of "older" workers. People who were born in 1980 are already 40 years old! Having the largest representation in the current workforce, Millennials have every reason to be concerned about age discrimination in the work place. Seeing your chances of keeping a well-paying job diminish as you cross the "magic 40" line, could be a nightmare come to life unless corporate greed, with its insatiable appetite for cheapening the cost of labor is met with effective enforcement of laws that have been written to serve the public, as opposed to serving the corporate world.


It is unnerving to think that the U.S. economy can continue to function by the rules of the corporate world with automation and major layoffs producing whopper bonuses to enrich the few individuals sitting in corporate C-Suite roles while denying the actual workers from the ability to maintain sustainable living wages. What are we going to do with people in the 40s, 50s, and 60s who can no longer find a decent-paying job? It is time to recognize that "older" is a relative term and that term applies to every single person throughout their lives. There is no cure for aging unless jumping from a tall bridge is your favorite hobby. One day the other guy is "old" and on the next day you are "the other guy".

Achieving equal rights for women is getting a new life in the political arena, particularly when it involves equal pay for equal labor.  However, very few proponents of women's rights acknowledge the fact that "older" women bear much harsher treatment from employers due to age discrimination, than men of similar age. The MeToo movement made remarkable progress to expose and (hopefully) curtail sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace. Maybe it is time to up the ante, use the momentum and declare the birth of the "Me-Three" (Me-3.00) movement to fight rampant age discrimination for women.

It is an "open secret" that Corporate America is in charge of the country, at least for the last 40 years. We have the "best politicians that money can buy", regardless of their political party affiliation. The current political system is totally fueled by money, which it seems to guzzle at an alarmingly high rate.
 
Although we currently (2020) have a President who seems to continuously make the wrong choices and then cover up in order to save face, both houses of the U.S. Congress seem to be stuffed with people of similar ego maniacal core. Congress and the U.S Senate are stuffed to the gills with recycled politicians who obey the wills of their donors, as opposed to the wishes of their constituents.
 
This situation is hard to explain, since most voters do not identify with either the RNC or the DNC propaganda. Gallup polls conducted frequently over the last few years consistently indicate that there are many more "independent" voters than voters that identify themselves with either "R" or "D". The latest poll conducted during the first week of June indicates that independent voters amount to 40% of the voting population as opposed to 25% Republicans and 31% Democrats.
 
To the best of my visibility, most people are more motivated to vote "against" a particular political candidate than "for" an alternative candidate. With this type of voters' psychosis, it is no wonder that the whole country is falling apart at the seams and what unifies us as voters are our differences...



While disaffection with both of the major parties has been rampant, attempts at creating a significant third party that could act as a tie-breaker in both houses of Congress have not been successful thus far. The political system is essentially rigged by the current players to prevent newcomers from taking political power from the entrenched establishment. As much as I would like to see a large "Independent Party" taking place in U.S. politics, it is difficult to imagine that such a phenomenon would come to life, absent a major long-term crisis. While the COVID-19 pandemic could potentially extend into a full blown existential crisis, most of the American public still believes that full recovery is a matter of a year or two. Throughout history this type of apathetic shortsightedness has always been the "Achilles Heel" of the plebiscite.

In reality, elected politicians must be "supervised" on a continuous basis. The power of money, concentrated in Washington D.C. lobbying firms, can be defeated if the voting constituents regularly and continuously check their representatives' actions by looking at their day to day, actions and voting records. Congressional representatives ears must be be kept open through continuous stream of messages sent to them by their constituents. In the absence of meaningful communication from their constituents, Congressional Reps attention becomes captive to be grabbed by D.C. lobbyists who's time is well paid to deliver their master's messages.

Calling politicians' bluffs does not need to wait for the next elections cycle. The Internet provides access to most Congressional records and it is too bad that most people do not care to read these records to enlighten themselves.
 
We all carry responsibility to manage our Reps, since otherwise, the money'ed interests in D.C. remain the only entities that interact with them. While big demonstrations in the streets have a significant "splash factor", such events tend to fizzle quite quickly. Generally, politicians have short attention span. In the absence of continuous follow-up on the cause, our politicians will not change their behavior, since most of them depend on money to retain their seat and the money supply is still concentrated in the hands of the "one-percenters" and the big corporate interests.

Take charge and call on your elected representative today! Tell them what you really care about.

Stay healthy and all the best!

--Dr. Flywheel

References:
 


Thursday, December 12, 2019

Intel Corp. - Is That “Mea Culpa”?

Mea culpa is a Latin phrase that means "through my fault" and is an acknowledgement of having done wrong. 
 (source: Wikipedia)

It is not unusual for criminals caught in the act by law enforcement to plead guilty to a lesser charge in order to cut a deal that (they hope) will reduce the impact of their sentencing. Usually such “deals” are cut during the period of time when an active investigation by law enforcement is taking place and prior to public filing of the official charges in court.


It is no surprise at all that Intel Corp. decided to expose their EEO-1 data for the years 2017-2018 to public view, attempting to create the impression of being a “cooperative good citizen”. See: Intel 2017-2018 EEO-1 Report


Interestingly, Intel Corp. own official published report demonstrates staggering lack of equality or diversity within the company’s workforce composition. Check out this Bloomberg article for a summary of the Intel Corp. EEO-1 reports data: Intel Is First to Share Detailed Pay Disparities. It’s Not Flattering...


The Bloomberg article notes:
Among 52 top executives at Intel, who all earn more than $208,000—the top pay band the EEOC tracks—29 are white men, 11 are Asian men and 8 are white women. The remaining tally is 1 each for Asian women, Hispanic women, black women and black men, with no Hispanic men among executives in that top tier.


The same article goes to say:
The ratio was similarly skewed across manager, professional and technician job classifications, with white and Asian men dominating top pay groups and women and people of color clustered in the lower bands. One in four white men at Intel are in the top salary tier, earning at least $208,000, a higher share than any other group. Rates are far lower for women and underrepresented minorities; less than 10% of black employees are top earners.

The immediate questions that come to mind are:
  1. What drives Intel Corp. to expose to the public, information that it must report only to the EEOC, and why right now?
  2. What is the overwhelming factor that drives Intel Corp. to seemingly admit to fault in public?
The timing question could be explained by the fact that details about the EEOC investigations of Intel Corp. age discrimination practices indicate the investigation is coming to a head. Interestingly, Intel Corp. public exposure of their EEO-1 reports, came out only two days after Mike Rogoway of the Oregonian news outlet published an article in the Sunday edition of the paper entitled: Age discrimination: Intel investigation drags on for years, worker protections lag. In his article, Rogoway spells quite clearly that the multi-year investigation of rampant employee age discrimination practices exercised by Intel Corp. is in full force.

Under the latest circumstances, it is clear that Intel Corp. exposure of its blatant lack of diversity is not happening in vacuum. It is well known by now that the company is undergoing federal investigation by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for gross violations of federal employment laws, more specifically, for massive age discrimination targeting a large number of its older employees. Since the company laid off more than 17,000 employees over the last four years, mostly during 2015 and 2016, and since many of these employees were not women or minorities, Intel Corp. pretends that laying off older employees was done to balance the lopsided composition of its workforce. In reality, the EEO-1 reports show very little change and a clear discrimination of women and minorities compensation basis. It is interesting to note that the EEO-1 reports do not require data aggregation on the basis of age, while they do include gender and minority attributes. It is likely that aggregation by age and year-to-year comparison of the reports would have revealed a clear trend of replacing older employees with younger employees. On the other hand, when the EEOC investigates the company, they can find the age aggregation numbers if they wish to do so. I will be surprised if the investigators did not collect this information.

When examining Intel Corp. seemingly “unusual” action of exposing the EEO-1 aggregated reports for 2017-2018, we must consider two important points:

  1. The type of violations reflected through the EEO-1 reports carry hardly any legal liability for the company and can be relatively easily deflected as “unfortunate” and non-intentional by the company defense attorneys.
  2. Unlike the violations exposed through the EEO-1 reports, Intel Corp. exercising massive age discrimination violations in the employee layoff cycles of 2015 and 2016, do confer significant legal liability and represent potential heavy financial cost to the company, once taken to court.
The results of the active EEOC age discrimination investigation have not been published yet, so it makes sense that potential charges officially filed against Intel Corp. by the EEOC will be far more severe than what the company is willing to admit to publicly. Under these circumstances, it can be understood that Intel Corp., portraying itself to be a cooperative “good citizen” by declaring “mea culpa” to lesser charges, is making a bet to lessen the public opinion impact (and perhaps also the court sentencing) associated with the company’s blatantly illegal practices.

On this website, we reported that in 2015, Intel Corp. deliberately (and criminally) marked the personnel records of more than a thousand employees as “thieves”. They took this radical step to simply block the possibility of any one of these laid off employees from being rehired. See: Intel Corp. Marked Employees as Thieves to Prevent Their Rehiring.


We also reported that Intel Corp. deployed armed guards to coerce employees who were laid off in 2016 to sign documents, relinquishing their rights for legal recourse against their employer. See: Armed Guards Were Used to Coerce Laid-off Intel Corp. Employees in 2016


Note that all the information that we reported was volunteered by Intel Corp. employees and ex-employees who held key positions at the company over the course of several years and had access to inside information at the relevant time. The EEOC was presented with this information in a timely manner and their investigators were invited to interview our witnesses during the course of their ongoing investigation.





Unfortunately, there is a growing trend over the last two decades for our government agencies to bail out of their oversight and inspection responsibilities and let large companies regulate and audit themselves. Relying on “
foxes to guard the hen-house” may work very well to advance the interests of “big business”; however, such dereliction of duty on the part of government agencies does not serve the interests of the citizenry.

Typically, large companies can get by and continue to behave badly with lack of external supervision, until something bad happens and the “shit hits the fan”

A case in point is the recently exposed failure of the FAA to supervise the qualification of the Boeing 737-MAX airplane. Self-policing of the B737-MAX airworthiness qualification saved Boeing a lot of money and allowed the company to shorten time to market for their product. However, it took the tragic loss of many lives to expose the systematic distortions and criminal neglect that was exercised in the process of self-policing.


Both the FAA and EEOC are U.S. Government agencies that operate with a great deal of autonomy and have a clear mandate to serve the American People and not the corporations. When such agencies get caught “sleeping at the helm” and letting the “
fox guard the hen-house”, the U.S. Congress must forcefully intervene to correct the behavior of the agencies, before a major disaster happens.

Though no smoldering wreckage and charred bodies can be shown on TV, systemic exclusion of older workers from the American workforce through massive layoffs and almost non-existent law enforcement against age discrimination, is an extremely destructive practice. We are going to witness the long-term economic ill effects of such discrimination in the coming years and the cumulative damages are far-reaching and even fatal to the millions of people affected by premature forced retirement and long-term unemployment.


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