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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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