Big Tech: From Threat to Savior of Democracy?

In the course of a week, big tech has gone from being one of the great threats to American democracy to being the self-proclaimed savior of American democracy.

Congress last year was discussing using federal anti-trust laws to break up Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Alphabet, Inc’s Google for engaging in anti-competitive, monopolistic business practices.

A bipartisan Congressional investigation concluded: “These firms have too much power, and that power must be reined in and subject to appropriate oversight and enforcement. Our economy and democracy are at stake.”

Meanwhile, the leaders of Google, Facebook and Twitter were hauled before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee to answer charges they engage in selective censorship of Republican content on the internet. They denied it but GOP pressed for repeal of a federal law that protects these platforms from lawsuits.

Big tech was on the defensive then but things have changed.

Tables Turn

Given recent events, it is stunning that in the past week big tech literally shut down speech over the Internet by the GOP President of the United States, various high-ranking GOP elected officials and prominent conservative commentators. They also nuked the social network Parler, a rising alternative to Twitter.

Google, Facebook and Twitter justify their actions by claiming the GOP targets pose a threat to democracy because they questioned the integrity of the recent Presidential election. The platforms blame their targets for a small group of thugs breaking into the Capitol building – which at the time had virtually no security measures in place – during a Jan. 6 Trump rally on election fraud.

Continue reading “Big Tech: From Threat to Savior of Democracy?”

AARP Rewrites Modern History Of Age Discrimination; Emerges Heroic

The AARP has devoted an issue of its monthly publication to age discrimination in which it announces that ageism remains an “accepted bias” and assures readers that it is “fighting” the problem

But the AARP fails to note that the AARP quashed a story that was supposed to run in the issue about the federal government’s  Pathway’s Program, which excludes older workers from federal jobs, reportedly because it didn’t want to jeopardize its federal grants or rock the boat.

The AARP also omits the fact that it virtually ignored age discrimination until after the 2014 publication of my  groundbreaking book, Betrayed: The Legalization of Age Discrimination in the Workplace. which exposes the failure of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) to protect older workers during and since the Great Recession. Continue reading “AARP Rewrites Modern History Of Age Discrimination; Emerges Heroic”

A Million Violations of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act?

What happens when  an individual or group asserts a human right that interferes with another individual or group’s rights and freedoms?

If the disadvantaged group is older Americans, their rights silently slip away.

Earlier this month, a coalition of 55 top U.S. companies  called The 100,000 Opportunities Initiative issued a press release touting a  “long-term effort” in the Atlanta area to bring jobs to “youth” aged 16 to 24 who are not in school or unemployed. Coalition members made thousands of on-the-spot job offers at a job fair on May 3. Coalition members have held similar hiring  events in Washington,  D.C., Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Phoenix and Seattle since the coalition’s formation six years ago.

The coalition now says it “aims to hire at least 1 million youth nationally  by 2021.”

The problem is that it is illegal under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) to refuse to hire workers aged 40 and above because of their age or, alternatively, because they aren’t between the ages of 16 and 24.  It also is illegal for a company to adopt a policy or practice  that has a disparate impact upon older workers.  Clearly, the rights of older workers to be free from invidious age discrimination in hiring have given way … but to what exactly? Continue reading “A Million Violations of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act?”

Time to Yank ‘Stack Ranking’?

The so-called “rank and yank” or “stack ranking” system of employee review may be going the way of the gold watch and Roman Gladiator.

Microsoft Corp. recently announced it was abandoning the controversial employee review and compensation system that pits employees against each other.

The  system required managers to grade employees against one another and rank them on a numerical scale.  Those on the bottom of the ranking were considered under-performers and vulnerable to dismissal.  The rankings also were used to mete out promotions and bonuses.

Microsoft dumped the numerical rankings earlier this month in favor of more frequent and qualitative employee evaluations.

The complete absurdity of the system was pointed out by some of Microsoft’s 100,000 employees  in a Vanity Fair article in August 2012 (that apparently no one at Microsoft read?)  Employees complained the system was cruel and resulted in capricious rankings, power struggles among managers, and unhealthy competition among colleagues.

According to the Vanity Fair article:  “Every current and former Microsoft employee I interviewed—every one—cited stack ranking as the most destructive process inside of Microsoft, something that drove out untold numbers of employees.”  A former software developer was quoted as stating, “ “It leads to employees focusing on competing with each other rather than competing with other companies.”

The problem with the system was that the so-called under-performers were not necessarily under performing.  Microsoft superstars did everything they could to avoid working alongside other top-notch developers, out of fear that they would be hurt in the rankings. Meanwhile, top talent fled to Google, Facebook and various start-ups and Microsoft lost competitive advantage.

The stacked ranking system became popular in the 1980s when General Electric Co. Chief Executive “Neutron” Jack Welsh enforced the system.  He claimed it was not cruel to remove the bottom 10 percent of employees in a stack ranking review because they could move on to be successful elsewhere.

By 2012, 60% of Fortune 500 firms used the stack ranking system of review.  However, a 2011 study by the Institute for Corporate Productivity found that the number of companies using forced ranking fell from 49% in 2009 to 14% in 2011.