Genius Bar doesn't hire retired Apple engineer, fires up age discrimination debate

Posted:
in General Discussion edited September 2016
The Apple engineer responsible for the OS X migration to Intel was never called back after an Apple retail Genius interview, and an op-ed is again sparking discussion about alleged age bias in Silicon Valley.




In an editorial about workplace biases in The New York Times, the author addressed age discrimination giving as an example ex-Apple engineer J.K. Scheinberg attempting to get a job at an Apple retail store as a customer support representative at the Genius Bar. Scheinberg was a long-time Apple employee and was responsible for the first builds of OS X for Intel processors in the early part of the century.

"On the way out, all three of the interviewers singled me out and said, 'We'll be in touch,'" Scheinberg said. "I never heard back."

Scheinberg worked with Apple from 1987 up until his retirement in 2008. He started work with the company in 1987 the A/UX department, and worked on Rhapsody, as well as Intel OS X kernel development.

Apple and youth

Scheinberg's case, and allegations of age discrimination, isn't the only public one. In 2010, 60-year-old Michael Katz sued Apple for promoting less senior and, in his view, less qualified individuals for the role of "Creative" at the Orlando, Fla. store that he worked at between 2006 and 2007.

"Each individual selected for the promotions sought by Katz was at least 15 years younger than Katz," stated the complaint. "Katz was passed over for promotion multiple times in favor of individuals with less seniority and inferior qualifications."
"Young people are just smarter." -- Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
Prior to the suit, Katz filed charges of age discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Florida Commission on Human Relations (EEOC). The EEOC found "reasonable cause" that Katz was denied promotions by Apple because of his age.

Katz's case differs, as he was hired by the Apple store, but allegedly denied promotional opportunities as a result of his age.

Additionally, In 2012, Apple included the term "new grad" in job postings, allegedly seeking only younger applicants for some positions. The EEOC also got involved with the text of Apple's job postings.

"In our view, it's illegal," said EEOC Senior Attorney Advisor Raymond Peeler about the phrase on job postings. "We think it deters older applicants from applying."

Not just Apple

The issue has been pervasive for years in Silicon Valley, and by extension, retail arms of the companies. Twitter, Google, Microsoft, and Facebook have all faced public suits, and media scrutiny, on the "new grad" and other age-related matters.

Famously, Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said that "young people are just smarter" at a conference in 2007.

Venture capitalist and co-founder of Sun Microsystems Vinod Khosla said in 2011 that "people over 45 basically die in terms of new ideas." Khosla was 55 at the time of his remark.

Both men have attempted to walk-back the statements, and claim that they were misinterpreted.

The EEOC is currently investigating Google, with data used by the regulatory group sourced from watchdog Payscale noting a median age of Google's workforce at 29. The median age U.S.-wide for coders is 43.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 112
    asdasdasdasd Posts: 5,077member
    In Scheinberg's case it might well have been over qualification for the store. I'm sure he could walk into another job in Apple.  (He subsequently became a CTO at a game company). 
    edited September 2016 ericthehalfbeebaconstangSpamSandwichmike1Deelronnostrathomasjbdragon
  • Reply 2 of 112
    The logical fallacy is that "years" = "qualification" in a lot of these age discrimination cases. When they claim they were passed over for someone less qualified, they often cite "year of experience" and assume that must somehow make them more qualified.

    Maybe they gave a worse interview than the younger alternative?

    Or maybe the company just wants to hire people who are looking to WORK and not someone looking for a paycheck to coast on til retirement.

    Private companies need to be left the hell alone to do as they please. Why anyone would want to start a business in the US anymore is beyond me. Just not worth it. 
    tallest skilmike1jbdragonnostrathomas
  • Reply 3 of 112
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,497member
    Just because you were an Intel engineer that assisted with switching Apple over, doesn't make you fit to be a Genius Bar employee. You have to know more than just how to troubleshoot and fix Apple products. I don't think this has anything to do with age, but rather he just didn't "fit" what Apple looks for when hiring Apple Store employees. Apple hires people of all ages, genders, races, sexualities, etc. I call major BS! Anything to create a story. 
    tallest skilmike1jbdragonnostrathomasTurboPGT
  • Reply 4 of 112
    They take one questionable snap-shot and turn it into an age-discrimination issue. BS! In Vegas where we have at least 6 Apple stores (most of which I've visited at one time or another), and although there are more young people, there is still quite a mixture of ages, as well as ethnicities. I'm 70 and remain quite tech savvy, but understand that a position at an Apple store is likely better suited to the tech-obsessed younger generation and their exuberance. No doubt this story will self-replicate over and over again with no basis in fact.
    edited September 2016 netroxcalebbenbekke
  • Reply 5 of 112
    asdasdasdasd Posts: 5,077member
    TurboPGT said:
    The logical fallacy is that "years" = "qualification" in a lot of these age discrimination cases. When they claim they were passed over for someone less qualified, they often cite "year of experience" and assume that must somehow make them more qualified.

    Maybe they gave a worse interview than the younger alternative?

    Or maybe the company just wants to hire people who are looking to WORK and not someone looking for a paycheck to coast on til retirement.

    Private companies need to be left the hell alone to do as they please. Why anyone would want to start a business in the US anymore is beyond me. Just not worth it. 
    Your second to last paragraph reveals your own ageism.  In this case the guy would know vastly more about the insides of the OS than anybody else at his interview. 

    Over qualification (or thinking this guy might leave) would be a more likely reason for over looking him. 
    edited September 2016 baconstangRocket_Manmobiusmike1ronnargonauttommikeleDeelronktappechia
  • Reply 6 of 112
    A cursory look into any Apple Store impresses with youthful appearance. Once one figures out who the staff is, one realizes that not all young people work as Baristas. You don't have to be a tech genius to work in an Apple Store. Certainly you have to know the products and that is where the youth part is useful. Young minds are malleable and imprinting the Apple culture on these developing minds is more successful then on an experienced and critical one. I'm sure that some of the people behind the Genius Bar have a tech background but it's basically a customer refund service. Knowing how to read and interpret a service contract is more important. The basic theme of an Apple Store is to keep it bland and sanitary so that the sparkling Apple screens will stand out.
    spliff monkey
  • Reply 7 of 112
    netroxnetrox Posts: 608member
    Wait... a guy who's responsible for a complex project - porting MacOSX to Intel - at Apple applied for a job as a customer representative at Genius Bar and Apple is sued for not hiring him because of his age?! I am not sure - there must be a reason why he was not hired and I doubt his age was the reason. How does he establish proof that it was because of his age?
  • Reply 8 of 112
    Age and experience seem like plusses for Genius Bar work.

    On the other hand, the lame ideas that come out of Silicon Valley these days, would indicate an over reliance on young and dumb.
    Rocket_ManronntdknoxbonobobflootistargonautDeelronfreerangeanantksundaramjeffharris
  • Reply 9 of 112
    It's depressing to see how many commenters just assume that J.K. Scheinberg must have been less qualified or technically adept than younger hires, or that he was over-qualified, or that he must have given a "worse interview, or that he "just didn't 'fit'." One commenter, perhaps emboldened by anonymity, even had the audacity to libel Mr. Scheinberg, suggesting that he was not "looking to WORK" and was, instead, just "looking for a paycheck to coast on til retirement." Did any of you who posted those comments meet Mr. Scheinberg? Did you sit in on his interview? Did you check out his references? Did you read his resume and those of the younger people who were hired? Did you talk to the people who made the hiring decisions for the store? I bet that most of you didn't even click the link to the NY Times article, much less read it before posting your comments. What motivates some people to claim that every allegation of employment discrimination, whether based on gender, race, religion, or sexuality, simply *must* be without merit -- despite all of the statistical evidence and peer reviewed research that proves such discrimination exists and harms so many people?
    edited September 2016 baconstangasdasdsingularityindieshackronntdknoxmonstrosityargonautstevehanantksundaram
  • Reply 10 of 112
    asdasdasdasd Posts: 5,077member
    netrox said:
    Wait... a guy who's responsible for a complex project - porting MacOSX to Intel - at Apple applied for a job as a customer representative at Genius Bar and Apple is sued for not hiring him because of his age?! I am not sure - there must be a reason why he was not hired and I doubt his age was the reason. How does he establish proof that it was because of his age?
    That's not possible to establish in many cases. And he's not suing Apple. 

    Here's a question though.

    Imagine you know this guy. You also know a 19 y/o Apple genius. Your Mac or iPhone is acting up. You know either will be willing to help. Who do you call? 
    edited September 2016 Rocket_Manronnbonobobfreerangestevehanantksundaramjdwbirkocnocbuilinkman
  • Reply 11 of 112
    It's depressing to see how many commenters just assume that J.K. Scheinberg must have been less qualified or technically adept than younger hires, or that he was over-qualified, or that he must have given a "worse interview, or that he "just didn't 'fit'." One commenter, probably emboldened by anonymity, even had the audacity to libel Mr. Scheinberg, suggesting that he was not "looking to WORK" and was, instead, just "looking for a paycheck to coast on til retirement." Did any of you who posted those comments meet Mr. Scheinberg? Did you sit in on his interview? Did you check out his references? Did you read his resume and those of the younger people who were hired? Did you talk to the people who made the hiring decisions for the store? I bet that most of didn't even click the link to the NY Time article, much less read it before posting your comments. What motivates some people to claim that every lawsuit for employment bias, be it based on age, gender, race, religion, or sexuality, simply *must* be without merit -- despite all of the statistical and peer reviewed research that prove such biases exist and harm so many people?
    Mr. Scheinberg may very well be the victim of age discrimination. I've seen it firsthand, and I am of the age where I am probably starting to experience it myself.

    The problem with the premise of the article is that his work on processor transitions is somehow supposed to be proof of discrimination. "He's really smart and has in-depth Apple experience, therefore it is discriminatory that he wasn't hired."

    Not necessarily true. The required skill sets of these positions, one in engineering and one in customer service, are vastly different. Just because he was a good fit for one does not mean he would be good for the other. Having managed many engineers, I have rarely found one that would be adept at a position that required dealing with unruly and unhappy customers all day long.
    baconstangtallest skiltdknoxpropodargonautDeelronralphdailyewtheckmannetmage
  • Reply 12 of 112
    asdasdasdasd Posts: 5,077member
    The problem is actually with the term Apple Genius. Bit of hyperbole. It's tier 1 support. Engineers like Scheinberg are tier 4 support (effectively, in reality the technician tiers end at tier 3)  and each tier is better paid. 
    edited September 2016
  • Reply 13 of 112
    "Hi, I used to be a highly paid engineer at Apple and now I want to work at your store as a Genius making close to minimum wage."

    Anyone see something wrong with that picture?
    edited September 2016 tallest skilanantksundaramTurboPGTtycho24
  • Reply 14 of 112
    "Hi, I used to be a highly paid engineer at Apple and now I want to work at your store as a Genius making close to minimum wage."

    Anyone see something wrong with that picture?
    Why not. An ex colleague at my work place decided after a nervous breakdown to work at a community centre. He went from (in usd) 400k to 20k per annum. Sometimes people want out of the rat race but still want to be active in something they love.
    baconstangronndasanman69argonautktappebirkofracnetmagejasenj1palomine
  • Reply 15 of 112
    TurboPGT said:
    Or maybe the company just wants to hire people who are looking to WORK and not someone looking for a paycheck to coast on til retirement.
    Some necessary reading for you:

    http://www.inc.com/news/articles/200609/employees.html

    http://www.wisconsinjobcenter.org/ow/ow_myths.pdf

    http://www.eurofound.europa.eu/observatories/eurwork/articles/older-workers-show-highest-levels-of-company-loyalty
    baconstangronnargonautnetmagetycho24
  • Reply 16 of 112
    It's depressing to see how many commenters just assume that J.K. Scheinberg must have been less qualified or technically adept than younger hires, or that he was over-qualified, or that he must have given a "worse interview, or that he "just didn't 'fit'." One commenter, perhaps emboldened by anonymity, even had the audacity to libel Mr. Scheinberg, suggesting that he was not "looking to WORK" and was, instead, just "looking for a paycheck to coast on til retirement." Did any of you who posted those comments meet Mr. Scheinberg? Did you sit in on his interview? Did you check out his references? Did you read his resume and those of the younger people who were hired? Did you talk to the people who made the hiring decisions for the store? I bet that most of you didn't even click the link to the NY Times article, much less read it before posting your comments. What motivates some people to claim that every allegation of employment discrimination, whether based on gender, race, religion, or sexuality, simply *must* be without merit -- despite all of the statistical and peer reviewed research that proves such discrimination exists and harms so many people?
    If I could give this comment more than one "like" I would. Well said.
    baconstangasdasdargonautfreerangestevehktappewelshdogfracsmaffeinetmage
  • Reply 17 of 112
    "Hi, I used to be a highly paid engineer at Apple and now I want to work at your store as a Genius making close to minimum wage."

    Anyone see something wrong with that picture?
    Why not. An ex colleague at my work place decided after a nervous breakdown to work at a community centre. He went from (in usd) 400k to 20k per annum. Sometimes people want out of the rat race but still want to be active in something they love.
    At any rate, my unpopular position is that any business should be free to apply any hiring qualifications they want to get their ideal candidate. No one is guaranteed a job, nor should they assume they are the ideal candidate. They are merely an applicant.
    edited September 2016 TurboPGT
  • Reply 18 of 112
    SoliSoli Posts: 7,847member
    There is not nearly enough data to understand whether the hiring manager(s) were discriminating against his age, discriminating against him for some other reason, or even if Scheinberg is or isn't the best candidates for the job opening for that particular hiring process.
    asdasdSpamSandwichbrertech
  • Reply 19 of 112
    macxpress said:
    Just because you were an Intel engineer that assisted with switching Apple over, doesn't make you fit to be a Genius Bar employee. ;
    Had you read past the headline, you would have seen that the very first few sentences identified him as "ex-Apple engineer" who "was a long-time Apple employee...responsible for the first builds of OS X for Intel processors." He was not an "Intel engineer that assisted with switching Apple over." You should read the articles before posting comments. It elevates the discourse when you post informed comments rather than misinformed, misleading ones.
    singularityronnbaconstangargonauthexclockDeelronstevehktappejeffharrisewtheckman
  • Reply 20 of 112
    "Hi, I used to be a highly paid engineer at Apple and now I want to work at your store as a Genius making close to minimum wage."

    Anyone see something wrong with that picture?
    Why not. An ex colleague at my work place decided after a nervous breakdown to work at a community centre. He went from (in usd) 400k to 20k per annum. Sometimes people want out of the rat race but still want to be active in something they love.
    At any rate, my unpopular position is that any business should be free to apply any hiring qualifications they want to get their ideal candidate. No one is guaranteed a job, nor should they assume they are the ideal candidate. They are merely an applicant.
    Your position, unpopular or not, is also illegal in the U.S.
    ronnsingularityargonautjeffharrisnetmagetomkarl
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