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Handling Discrimination in the IT Workplace?

Cliff posted more than 12 years ago | from the where-can-you-go-what-can-you-do dept.

News 918

RJ asks: "I would like to get some advice from others that may be going through the same situation I am. I am currently 19 and will be turning 20 in 1 week. I have held my current job, as Systems-Network Administrator, for almost a year now in very good standing according to my direct boss, the IT Manager. I have 5 years industry experience and a few certifications, yet I am more then qualified for my current position according to previous employers (and my work history/experience). It has recently come to my attention that our IT Director is trying to either find a way to get rid of me or transfer me into a miserable job position, all because of my age. My Boss explained to me he thinks it has to do with a bit of jealousy. Everyone I work with is over the age of 30 and the IT director is in his mid 40's." Either your too old, or your too young, or it's racial issues, sexual preference, and sometimes it can even be religion. Despite the fact that it's the 21st century discrimination still exists and many of us have had to face it in our careers. For most, it basically amounts to a career roadblock, while for others, it can also turn into an extremely humiliating and terrible experience. What options exist for those who experience it in any of the many forms it can take in the workplace?

"The IT Director has never approached me about any of this and treats me fine to my face, but seems to talk bad about me around my Boss, though my boss does his best to defend me. I have had no work problems (documented or not) and have a clean HR record. It's to the point I can't trust anyone at work anymore. Everywhere I work people like me but as soon as they learn my age they automatically hate me, become jealous, or try to find ways to get rid of me. I have learned to deal with this problem as I figured it went with the territory. However, I also have a new baby daughter and a new wife to support and I can't lose my job, especially in this economy. Needless to say I am polishing up the resume and starting to look for a new job, but can anyone offer any sound advice, or legal actions which I can take if I do get fired, or even suggest employers in the industry that are friendly to my age bracket?"

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918 comments

Exactly (0, Redundant)

mkaufman (542812) | more than 12 years ago | (#2764669)

I know exactly how you feel..a lot of the same stuff happens to me with different jobs and people. There's really not much you can do about it..and people usually aren't willing to help you out :(

Re:Exactly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2764757)

He is a -nerd-.

You may think your boss is a friend..... (4, Troll)

wo1verin3 (473094) | more than 12 years ago | (#2764671)

but he isn't. If he was really a friend or cared about you in that job he would stand up for you and speak to someone above the person who is "unhappy" with you.

My best friend was in the same position as you, 21 years old, a unix admin, a new boss came in and wanted him gone. 6 months later they had a short list of stupid reasons to fire him and did so, even though they are the kind of things everyone does, sucha s coming in late 5 minutes once or twice.

Re:You may think your boss is a friend..... (3, Interesting)

wayn3 (147985) | more than 12 years ago | (#2764810)

My feelings exactly. Your boss should be the one handling this, perhaps with Personnel.

If your boss won't support you, then try to get a letter of recommendation from him and work on getting another job. As the poster of the parent note implies, once a Director has a mind to do things, like canning someone, they usually find a way to do it.

Good luck in your next job (and there will always be a next job).

Time to grow up (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2764672)

". It's to the point I can't trust anyone at work anymore. Everywhere I work people like me but as soon as they learn my age they automatically hate me, become jealous, or try to find ways to get rid of me. "

Welcome to the real world, mommy isn't holding your hand anymore.

Proof is good. (2, Insightful)

goodwid (102323) | more than 12 years ago | (#2764673)

#1: Document everything, whether rumors, tidbits you overhear, whatever. Keep a record of everything you hear, who said it, when, where, etc.
#2: If they set out to try to get rid of you, they can use anything, so stay on the ball.

Re:Proof is good. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2764711)

He's right. Get yourself a little notebook. One that can fit in your pocket. Anytime anything suspicious happens. Whip it out and write it down, with time, date, location and any witnesses. Don't be too obvious about it though, Don't start writing things down in front of people's faces.

If push comes to shove you can use it to get them to back off, or file a wrongful termination suite.

If its a big prestigous company you might even get a a firm to work your case pro bono.

First Dildo Post!!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2764674)

I'm walking backwards for Christmaaaaaaas... oh, wait.

:o)

Interesting. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2764677)

I'm sure we could get some rather interesting debate going on here.

NEW LINK! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2764678)

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Re:NEW LINK! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2764708)

oh, it is so cute! I just love kittens and puppies in sandwich bread!!!

I would talk to a lawyer (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2764680)

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More details needed. (5, Informative)

juuri (7678) | more than 12 years ago | (#2764681)

You are 19 and currently have 5 years experience?

I don't buy it. Being on the net for 5 years or taking apart and playing with computers with your friends isn't real world(tm) job experience.

Please, prove me wrong.

Re:More details needed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2764732)

really.

So this kid was accumulating "industry" experience when he was 14. I don't think playing quake is "industry experience"

Re:More details needed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2764741)

gotta agree. perhaps you are being terminated for being too cocky.

Re:More details needed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2764744)

Maybe this is Junis [slashdot.org] ... our friend from Kabul.

Re:More details needed. (0)

sporty (27564) | more than 12 years ago | (#2764745)

Well that is a very closed-minded view. Some of us start really young. I started programming when I was 16, and now being almost 25 (oi) I have 9 years experience. Graduated last year and I have had similar disbelief.

This guy isn't coming here to be disbelieved but for help. Give him the benefit of the doubt, eh?

Re:More details needed. (1)

owlmeat (197799) | more than 12 years ago | (#2764771)

I'm not buying the years of experience either. I started taking apart radios at age 12, but the only job experience that counted was the miserable 3 months that I put in at Safeway.

The age discrimination card only plays after 40. Sorry, life isn't fair.

Re:More details needed. (5, Insightful)

wurp (51446) | more than 12 years ago | (#2764786)

While I agree that the post to which you're replying takes a cynical view, I still agree that even if you have been programming since 16, your 'years of experience' don't start then.

When you tell someone about your professional experience, it should be just that. You should definitely also tell them about your pre-professional experience, but you're misleading them if you lump your junior high and high school programming/networking/admin days in with work you did in a professional environment.

BTW, I started programming (in Basic and 6502 assembler) when I was 12 years old. I am now 31, and I tell people I have 7 years of experience, which I do. I have never counted my experience as starting at 12!

Perhaps the first paying job? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2764804)

I had my first paying job at 13, programming a document processor in assembler. I've always counted my work experience starting from that moment.

Re:More details needed. (1)

datawar (200705) | more than 12 years ago | (#2764759)

I'm 17. I've been working in the IT field (a REAL, paying job) for two years now. Therefore when I'll be 1 week from being 20, I'll have 5 years of experience as well. These days I see kids (in high school) even younger trying (and sometimes succeeding) in getting jobs.

Re:More details needed. (2)

NumberSyx (130129) | more than 12 years ago | (#2764765)

You are 19 and currently have 5 years experience?

I don't buy it. Being on the net for 5 years or taking apart and playing with computers with your friends isn't real world(tm) job experience.

Volunteering to admin your High Schools network 2 hours a week, isn't real world job experience either. I know of no business that would trust thier computer network to a 14 year old, no matter how good he was. 14 year olds tend to have surges of hormones that make them do stupid things. Don't take it personally, I do not question your skill, but I do think you are overestimating your job experience.

Can't just take his word for it? (2, Insightful)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 12 years ago | (#2764767)

Just because you didn't work while you were in high school doesn't mean no one else did. As a freshman in high school (14 yrs old) my father hired me to do some network administration in the small accounting firm he owned. I learned on the job and he paid me a low hourly salary. I did that all through high school and college for him. That's 8 years of "real world(tm)" experience before getting a degree.

No one is going to say their 19 with 5 yrs experience and not mean it. You can be sure he's used to the questions, and knows better than to state something like that on Slashdot without a valid story behind it ;-)

Be one of the best! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2764780)

at: http://linuxmonkey.freeservers.com

Re:More details needed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2764793)

...and a bunch of teenagers immediately reply, demonstrating their complete lack of comprehension of what actual experience means...

Re:More details needed. (1)

MrAndrews (456547) | more than 12 years ago | (#2764807)

It's not entirely out of the question. I started my "work life" around 15, working part-time during the school year and then full-time during the summer, doing mainly Director programming and (what I now laughingly refer to as) video work as a contractor for a multimedia shop. That kind of thing really does count for something, especially when compared to recent grads from the "5 weeks of Director and I'm An Expert!" courses.

Most people won't believe you when you say you've had 5 years experience at 20, but it shows when you're better adjusted to real work habits compared to recent-college grads the same age. Also, you have a better chance of buying yourself a kickass system when you're 16, which is definitely worth something at the time :)

GRAMMAR! (0, Offtopic)

labratuk (204918) | more than 12 years ago | (#2764683)

Either your too old, or your too young, or it's racial issues...

You mean:

Either you're too old, or you're too young, or it's racial issues...



Come on, I expect this sort of thing from the trolls and thirteen year olds, but you're supposed to be setting an example. Wake up. This mistake should not be made, even by ten year olds.

Spelling (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2764684)

either that or you can't spell. It's "you're" as in "you are" not "your."

Find another job (2)

SCHecklerX (229973) | more than 12 years ago | (#2764685)

Stay there. Do what you have to do to earn money, but start looking around on monster, etc. Do some interviews. Find a place that's cool to work. Leave without notice.

Finding a job is easy. Finding a place to work where you really fit in is the hard part. If you don't like the people you work with, or they don't like you, it's just a matter of time until your gone (unless you are the boss :)

Re:Find another job (3, Funny)

SCHecklerX (229973) | more than 12 years ago | (#2764703)

Ack! Until you're gone. I think that's the first time I've ever made that mistake. I think I might have some slashdot-related disease!

Keep worrying! (3, Funny)

erroneus (253617) | more than 12 years ago | (#2764686)

IF you keep worrying, you will age much faster and people will not get you for age discrimination. But Age discrimination happens the other direction as well -- if you're in IT, not management and over 35... watch out! You're being watched closely for signs of obsolescence. Many have associated that problem in conjunction with H1-B abuse... hrm... anyway...

Keep worrying! You'll lose your hair, get a wrinkly forehead and you'll fit right in. In the mean time, there's always surgery.

Yeah this is a big problem (2, Interesting)

Sk3lt (464645) | more than 12 years ago | (#2764688)

I always have this and I am the same age as you, Well I turn 20 mid December next year but anyway... I found that if you confront them and show them how much you know and how confident you are at your job then they will learn to respect your level of knowledge. Remember in the business world it all comes down to trying to run a succesful company and if they feel that your age will interupt this trend then that's why they might get offended.

I don't see a problem if you are doing your job and as you said your direct boss doesn't have a problem with you.

I am currently still studying at college but I always do jobs fixing computers on my time off and when the people see me (I look young) they get offended a bit until I show them how confident I am with what I do and then they change there mind.

The Older generation feel that they are more advanced with computers and forget to realise that alot of kids are growing up with computers too.

Re:Yeah this is a big problem (5, Insightful)

Brento (26177) | more than 12 years ago | (#2764712)

I found that if you confront them and show them how much you know and how confident you are at your job then they will learn to respect your level of knowledge.

Wrong-o. If you confront a senior manager and start a showdown, you will win the battle and lose the war, looking like a cocky jerk. I can't believe how many times I see junior people try that stunt. If you correct your boss in front of other people, you are NOT helping your case. You will look like an overconfident know-it-all with zero political experience, and your boss will not have you around the next time he/she is in an important conversation.

That sort of trick works great when you're "fixing computers on my time off", as you said, but as soon as you get into a political office, you will be targeted for destruction. Think about how you feel when somebody corrects you, and you were wrong. Now think about how you'd react if they were much younger, and you had all the power. You might think you'd be nice to them, but in reality, you'd squash 'em like a bug and bring in somebody more polite and savvy.

Start your journey by reading The Art Of War. I can't emphasize enough how important this is in corporate culture: look weak when you're strong, and look strong when you're weak. Nothing impresses bosses more than an employee who gets the war of corporate culture, and knows how to pick battles.

Re:Yeah this is a big problem (2, Insightful)

Sk3lt (464645) | more than 12 years ago | (#2764781)

Oh yeah I know... I'm not talking about correcting the boss as that's a big No-No but what I mean is that if you show them how good you are by, for example, if you work at a computer retail shop try to talk to customers and help them out giving them advice on whats the best product and also making sure your boss is listening as he will not only be impressed but he will see that you are doing a good job.

Not AOW but Prince you must read! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2764796)

http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/machiavelli-p rince.html [fordham.edu]

I must admit that as a younger manager I did my fair share of crushing.

The core problem is that in a corporate (and government) environment there's always a fair bit of lying and backstabbing going on, usually at the same time.

You know the mix, two truths and one lie.

If there's some know-it-all who starts correcting me when I'm feeding this mixture to someone I have to placate/bribe to get, for example, the budget to rehire the selfsame wiseass next year, I'm going to smile, nod, and thank that person there and then, then turn around and fire his ass next day.

It would be so much nicer if the world were a better place but as it is, I have to live in it. I'm trying to change it all right but that change'll take more than my lifetime to push through.

Remember kids: even if you know how the stuff is done, you probably don't know, at 20, the reason your manager (or salesperson) is lying.

talk to a lawyer (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2764689)

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do you consider him cute?

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Maybe you ARE the problem. (5, Insightful)

Brento (26177) | more than 12 years ago | (#2764690)

It has recently come to my attention that our IT Director is trying to either find a way to get rid of me or transfer me into a miserable job position, all because of my age. My Boss explained to me he thinks it has to do with a bit of jealousy. Everyone I work with is over the age of 30 and the IT director is in his mid 40's.

OK, you need to buckle down a little here and realize that it might be a perfectly legitimate complaint. They hired you knowing full well what your age was (unless you've got premature gray hair or you dress like Mr. Rogers), and you need to realize that they wouldn't have hired you if they didn't want you. Something has changed between the time when they hired you, and now. Odds are you've demonstrated something about your age that didn't show up in the interview. I don't know what it is in your case, but typical guesses would be that you've made some less-than-mature decisions.

I know plenty of people who have done the same thing. One example that comes to mind is a guy who started dating coworkers. A lot of them. And while it wasn't against company policy, it looked pretty immature when he was involved with a different staff member every month - and it wasn't the kind of mistake a 40-year old programmer would have made. The powers of the company didn't start disliking him because of his age: they disliked him because of the decisions he made.

Another thing you need to consider is the economy. Suddenly, employers have their pick of the best that's out there, and prices are dropping. You might have been a choice pick two or three years ago, but now there are better people out there with more experience, and the IT director might even have someone in mind.

Don't forget that personal connections mean everything. Your chief responsibility is to make sure your boss doesn't make any mistakes, and that he/she looks like a hero. As long as that's the case, your boss will always go to the mat for you, no matter how old/young you are, and nobody else in the company will be able to override them. You know what they say about trust: people who don't trust others, can't be trusted. If you come off as paranoid, nobody's going to put you in charge of stuff.

Re:Maybe you ARE the problem. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2764727)

I know plenty of people who have done the same thing. One example that comes to mind is a guy who started dating coworkers. A lot of them. And while it wasn't against company policy, it looked pretty immature when he was involved with a different staff member every month - and it wasn't the kind of mistake a 40-year old programmer would have made.


Oh bullshit. I've had plenty of experience with 40-year-old programmers and managers and EXECUTIVES making such "mistakes". And christ, if I had the opportunity to date a co-worker a month you can bet your ass I'd do it -- and I'm 41!

Foolishness is not a function of age.

Re:Maybe you ARE the problem. (1)

segvio (540235) | more than 12 years ago | (#2764751)

>> They hired you knowing full well what your age >> was Employers are not allowed by law to consider the hiring of a person based on age (or sex, religion, race or sexual preference for that matter). Although there are other reasons you mention that may cause his firing, the original author stated that age discrimination seemed to be the problem, and most likely, it is.

Re:Maybe you ARE the problem. (2)

Brento (26177) | more than 12 years ago | (#2764769)

Employers are not allowed by law to consider the hiring of a person based on age (or sex, religion, race or sexual preference for that matter). Although there are other reasons you mention that may cause his firing, the original author stated that age discrimination seemed to be the problem, and most likely, it is.

They're also not allowed to use it when making firing decisions, either, so what's your point? You're saying that they didn't do it when they hired him, but now they're doing it to fire him? Not in the course of just a year, I don't buy that.

Re:Maybe you ARE the problem. (5, Insightful)

mwdib (56263) | more than 12 years ago | (#2764770)

Brento makes a very valuable point in his first paragraph. As a manager with 30-some years experience, I've seen many cases where employees felt they were being discriminated against (for age, sex, sexual orientation, or race) but, at the same time, there were serious performance problems or behaviors that the employee failed to correct -- often claiming the behaviors were irrelevant or didn't even exist.

Out of a dozen or so instances I can think of, there was only one (a sexual orientation case) where I agreed with the employee that the manager's case against him was bogus and rooted in personal animosity. Of course, in my state, discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is legal, so the employee lost. Nonetheless, the other 11 or so cases make me skeptical as to the claims being offered here. I could be wrong, but I'm a crusty old cynic.

And now I'm going to sound like a prejudicial old coot . . .


My experience tells me that young people (males particularly) tend to be non-reflective and have a fair amount of trouble realistically assessing their behaviors (both good and bad).


That said, I'd offer the following advice:
  1. Answer the question: do I like (or need) this job enough that I'm willing to make reasonale changes to my behavior? If the answer is yes, continue:
  2. Talk to the boss and ask what specific behaviors need changing. If the boss says "none," ask for permission to speak to the IT Director yourself. [Bear in mind that the boss may be trying to get you to change your behavior by making you think upper management is displeased -- maybe they aren't and the boss is playing some game of his own for his own reasons. The IT Director may love you and the boss may actually be the one trying to get you to leave]. If you get to talk to the IT Director, lay out the situation clearly, with more detail than you have done here. The upshot should be respectful requests to (1) understand the situation and (2) understand if the IT director has concerns about your behavior and what they are.
  3. In any event, immediately go to your company's HR department and lay out the situation clearly and non-emotionally.


The essence of the advice is this: Failing to confront this, will just stress you out and get you no where. You must clarify three things: (1) where you stand on the job, (2) what the actual situation is, and (3) if you need to make changes to alter the situation.

Best of luck.

Re:Maybe you ARE the problem. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2764779)

The nasty thing is that things may change for no reason. Some people can just dislike you for no real reason. I've seen it happen.

BTW: IMO there is nothing wrong with dating coworkers (well if you're going through half of them...I guess some people are like that with dating, which I don't understand, but am ok with), although it can be a good idea to keep it discreet and not make it public knowledge at the office.

Personally, I think it is hard enough to find a SO to rule out anyone for secondary reasons (like because they're coworkers) and companies that make such a thing against policy are not doing their employees a favor.

how to handle discrimination in any workplace (0, Troll)

perdida (251676) | more than 12 years ago | (#2764696)

Discrimination is a systemic problem.

A friend of mine worked as a trader in various places, and finance is an area where your merit is proved quite objectively -- by how much money YOU make for the company.

He was fired from 3 different jobs at MAJOR international and national banks, in large downsizings, even though he consistently made more money than everybody else in his department.

State-mandated, systemic, global solutions are needed. They involve rules, coercion, force, and surveillance of the free market. Capitalism says that merit is the only way to hire and promote, if one wants the most competitive edge. Unfortunately, major decisionmakers tend to choose racism every time over more profits.

additional info (1, Troll)

perdida (251676) | more than 12 years ago | (#2764734)

1) My friend is a black male and is intimidatingly smart.

2) He has tried suing, especially in the 2nd firing, but lawyers won't take many race discrimination cases because most of the money is in sexual harrassment cases. Women who prove harassment tend to get the big damages.

Re:how to handle discrimination in any workplace (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2764790)

"State-mandated, systemic, global solutions are needed."

Hahahaha.
Get lost troll.

Re:how to handle discrimination in any workplace (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2764799)

Now that's one hell of an ignorant generalization. Capitalism doesn't say that merit is the only way to hire and promote. Capitalism says that those who risk their capital get to make the decisions in the best-case, most efficient market.

A capitalist who makes personnel decisions based on racist ideas - or any other ignorance - is a bad one and will end up a loser, whether in the short-term because of lawsuits and bad sentiment, or in the long term due to an inablity to compete because of intentionally removing a large part of the workforce from consideration for employment.

And merit isn't an easily-defined term, either. Is your friend who made so much money for his company automatically more meritorious than someone who didn't? What if someone makes more money but generates so much ill will among the other employees that they make less?

There's another possibility (1)

Matey-O (518004) | more than 12 years ago | (#2764697)

As much as people would like to blame a PC classification and turn things in to a 'sue'-able situation. Sometimes people just don't like you.

Finding a work environment where everybody gets along, and there are no politics, and everybody has the same goals is a rare and wonderful find.

Working in a political environment also takes a little thickness of skin. It's _very_ easy to take everything that happens as a personal sleight, but being a non-management employee means you're necessarily isolated from the decisions that make a company run. You may be passed over for a position, not because you're young, but because another person has been working there longer. I'm sure you're not the only person there that is expecting compensation (in the form of salary or promotions) for their work.

Welcome to the real world (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2764698)

Hey if what you say is true then find another job somewhere else. Not much else to do. You could just live with it.

discrimination (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2764699)

learn to live with it. You're out of school now and people can do whatever they damn well like. (unless you're discriminated against and you're black. that's completely different these days)

Age Discrimination is illegal (1)

jd142 (129673) | more than 12 years ago | (#2764700)

Talk to a lawyer who specializes in labor law. As with code, document, document, document. If your immediate boss is really on your side, get him to testify on your behalf, but mere speculation or rumors may not be enough.

Wrong! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2764755)

Yes, there are some "laws about age
discrimination" but they only apply to
people who are like 50 or over. Besides,
when you get your draft card you still can't
drink alchohol. Also, try being 23 and renting
a car. Yes, age discrimination is pretty much legal.

Take it like a man. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2764701)

I'm sorry, but you are only 20 and you need to pay your dues.

You're lucky they don't send you out for sandwiches. By the way, if you were actually that qualified, you would know the difference between "then" and "than".

Eat some humble pie, kiss some ass, and learn what your elders have to teach. You might actually turn them into allies.

spelling spree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2764702)

... yet I am more then qualified for my ...
You are more? And THEN what?

... Either your too old, or your too young, or ...
My too old what?

First thing the poster (... and editor) might try is to get educated about proper spelling.

Horrible /. question. (3, Insightful)

ImaLamer (260199) | more than 12 years ago | (#2764706)

That isn't a great question to ask the /. community. You are going to get a million IANAL but here is three large - run on forever and ever quite descriptive version on my opinion.

If you think you have a case see a lawyer. Besides that there is nothing you can do except... nothing. You can't be mean to him, as this will give him a legitamate reason to fire or demote you. You shouldn't ignore him because that isn't good for anyone in the workplace. But, most importantly don't take his shit.

But if you are serious about doing SOMETHING, do it legally and through the proper channels. I could have been one of the few woman-on-man sexual harassment 'victims' [read:Millionaire] if I would have sought real legal advice early.

Besides that, if you don't even know for sure what he thinks and he hasn't actually affected your job or overall life, there isn't much you can do.

I'm 21 and I learned this lesson fast. If you don't like the people you work with [or they don't like you] there isn't anything you can do; and if you quit or do something to get fired you may find it hard to get work afterwards.

Re:Horrible /. question. (2)

Brento (26177) | more than 12 years ago | (#2764730)

If you think you have a case see a lawyer.

And furthermore, don't expect the lawyer to do anything free on your behalf. You're making good money, and so do these sharks in suits, and you're both worth it: be prepared to spent $500. Nobody takes this stuff on contingency, and if you're smart, you'll realize this is an investment in your future.

Re:Horrible /. question. (3, Insightful)

s390 (33540) | more than 12 years ago | (#2764788)

I disagree - /. gets these every once in a while and the community provides some good advice.

Gather documentation: you should have copies of your reviews and be allowed to see everything in your personnel file, maybe even get a copy of it. Take copies of your email, and take them offsite.

Does your company have an Employee Handbook or other HR publications describing their personnel and termination policies and procedures? If so, they must follow what they publish or face potential liability for wrongful reassignment or termination. Get copies of whatever they publish.

What State do you work in? Do you know what your State Labor Board/Commission requires of employers? If not, find out.

Get a lawyer. Most will talk with you for an initial assessment of your situation without charge. But you'll have to retain them ($$$) to get them to take any action on your behalf, from writing letter(s) to filing suit ($$$$+).

Best wishes to you.

I too would be suspicious... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2764709)

of a 20 year old claiming "5 years industry experience". Of course, it IS possible that you were a sysadmin at age 15; but this story reminds me of a job candidate I reviewed in 1995. The candidate claimed "10 years java programming experience". That's not very likely, unless you're James Gosling, and even then...

Be your own boss (1)

oakestv (97250) | more than 12 years ago | (#2764715)

If you have the motivation, drive and skill set you can overcome some age restrictions by being your own boss. Form your own company. You'll be making more money so you can outsource the work you hate to do (like billing and book keeping) and it's hard to fire the boss.

Just like certifications are a foot in the door, owning your own company shows you have a level of maturity and commitment to a cause that many of your peers do not. Down the road it might even turn into the best finiacial idea you ever had!

As long as you put forth a mentally mature attitude you can go wherever you want when your the boss.

You'll still have trouble renting a car, most banks won't give you a loan unless you're fairly wealthy already, and running your company out of your parents house is bit odd but overall I feel the benefits far outweigh the ills.

Quit. (3, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | more than 12 years ago | (#2764716)

It's always easier to get a higher starting salary than a raise. If you don't like where you are, and your skills are as you describe, then get your resume out there, and take a better job.

-jcr

Recessionomics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2764718)

The tech business has changed in the last two years.
Before, business needed any qualified person they could get; now they can afford to revert to their old practices of discrimination. The accountants and marketeers who dominate business decision making are scared of workers who can demand market prices; so, they play politics. So, if you are under 22, over 35 or black or latino; you don't fit the profile. Remember, these days you can be replaced by an H1-B guest worker from India: a person who can't quit his job, ask for a raise and/or write to his congressman about getting !@#$ed
over at work. If you were running a cut-throat business, who would you hire? High tech work was once a good job for some one without a trust fund, without a Med Schoool or Law degree. Now, it's going the way of the agriculture: low margins (unless you're Microsoft) and cheap labor. High tech is boom/bust and we are in the bust phase and some people get shafted. The boom will return, by then you'll fit the profile. Just remember: the man lives on cheap, compliant labor. Just shuffle your feet and say "yes, sir" and pay your rent.

Take it or leave it (5, Insightful)

k4 (267349) | more than 12 years ago | (#2764721)

I had problems with discrimination in my first two jobs out of college - about ten years ago. I had the double whammy - young (21) and female. I was a sysadmin, programmer, jack of all trades, with three years of experience and a CS degree. But because I was female, the salesmen gave me letters to type. The owner referred to me as the "computer girl" and treated me like a secretary. I tried to tough it out for a while, but realized that there isn't much you can do about people like them. So I quit.

The next place I worked at, I was the manager of the IT department, with two employees reporting to me. I was nearly 20 years younger than them, and one of them had major problems with my age. She tried very hard to get me fired. Most of the other managers also thought I was way too young and didn't take me seriously at all. So I quit.

The next time I interviewed, I looked for companies with lots of young employees. Getting a tour of the company is a great way to scope this out. I also looked for temp-to-hire positions, so I could make sure things would be good before hiring in permanently. And I found a fantastic company, where people didn't care that I was female or young. I was much, much happier.

So if you've got the experience, knowledge, and talent, why stay in an environment where you're uncomfortable or not treated right? Life is too short...

It goes away eventually (2, Interesting)

MrAndrews (456547) | more than 12 years ago | (#2764723)

I had the same problems starting out as an 18-year-old in IT. Luckily for me I look a little older than my age, so I had some time to spare before anyone caught on.

One particularly nasty moment I had was when I went in for a job interview, then a second, then a third at this company, and at the end of the third they brought me around to meet the people I was going to be working with, get to know people, see my desk etc. And one of the people I met said, "Hey, didn't you go to high school with my brother?"
...
Sure enough, I got the call the next day that they'd given the job to someone else (who they'd already told me wasn't qualified).

But it's how it goes. You get pressured out of jobs because of your age, or get quietly underpaid for the same work, or have managers explain to you "in the workplace, we do not always get full lunch hours like in school".

The thing to look for could be companies that were started by younger people (harder to find these days, admittedly), because they tended to do their thing as a result of being underappreciated at their old jobs.

I myself went into freelance and contract work, because you are sold on your reputation before they meet you. I also find that starting your own company (get lots of credit cards and disconnect your fear mechanism) is a good thing to do, ESPECIALLY when you have a wife and daughter (my situation exactly... it makes you work harder).

A few years from now you'll look back at this time, a second kid on the way, and think "wow, I can't believe almost every one of the companies I worked for that treated me like crap have gone out of business!", and it will all be okay.

Been there Done that. (1)

RembrandtX (240864) | more than 12 years ago | (#2764725)

Lie about your age.

When I started out as a Webbie .. I was 22 or 23 .. I tacked a few years on .. only the HR department knew. [this was back before the onslaught of 'new blood' in my type of job .. when you had to be able to write html in a text editor :P]

just don't talk about your birthday, or celebrate it. and no one is the wiser.

it made my coworkers more comfortable, my boss could associate with me more because i was closer to his age, and it kept them from saying 'dumb kid' behind my back.

Although .. this *is* yet another example of how the computer industry seems to have a large amount of 'disfunctional' people. Its quite possible that the IT director is actually *afraid* of you.

Your up on the current tech, you have some recent certifications. He is in his 40's .. maybe thinking about early retirement.

Maybe he just has his MCSE and is a paper tiger.
[I have noticed in the past that shops that are run by *M$ zealots* tend to be scared of people with real knowledge .. or a real degree for that matter. - of course .. pure *nix zealots are just as bad .. but thats off topic]

Maybe he is getting pretture from above to ditch a few people. [and being the youngest .. and I would assume .. the last one there - your the first name on the list]

YOUR boss isnt helping the matter.

If his boss has problems with you .. he should't be telling you about them .. if he is .. question that. Is he telling you becuase your making mistakes, and he is uncomfortable TELLING you to toe the line ? [ie .. subtle threat from outside, but im your friend type of boss] or is he a blabber mouth ? [tells everything to eveyone type of boss]

Your boss and you should have a professional relationship .. it sounds like you two are friends. Your not .. your an employee and his/her supervisor. You have to keep that professional distance. If your boss is telling you things HIS/HER boss is telling you (in confidence im sure) then they are actaually screwing up .. destroying the IT director's credability .. and putting themselves in a position to get axed. (HR wise)

either way .. your not in a good place .. start documenting stuff, if your boss says you do a good job .. ask him to put THAT in your work file.

so you have a good paper trail incase they try to make a bad one.

Mid 40s, thinking about early retirement? WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2764772)

HAH! He's probably worrying about next
month's mortgage payment and getting his kids
through school!

Sources of Information (1)

budGibson (18631) | more than 12 years ago | (#2764726)

Is your only direct source of information concerning this your boss? Be careful. It is not unheard of for bosses to distort information to their own ends. Would these "terrible" other jobs report to your boss or to someone else?

You sound like you are in a vulnerable situation and likely very stressed with the new baby on the way. Also, by demographic characteristics, you seem a bit of an outlier in your organization. This will initially cause social distance once people realize it.

Don't let these things stop you from building your network within the organization to include a large number of people who can both mentor and support you. Organizations are like microcosms of the external job market. You need to have other people who know you, appreciate you, and understand your value. There need to be alot of those for you to do well.

Try to think of ways to overcome any distance you may sense others feel. Find ways to join in with them socially, to perceive you not as a threat but a help. Participate in softball or after-hours drinks. The baby constrains things, but it is important not to drop out of sight.

Figure out how to get to know other bosses so that they will want you on their team. Find some way to chitchat with them. For instance, discuss their projects with them focusing on some aspect where you are knowledgeable and might show some insight.

What I fear from your message is that you are relying on your boss for too much of your connection at work. It also sounds like you are having pre-first baby anxiety adding to how bad the problem seems. Getting better social connections at work will help with both of these.

Good luck.

Talk to the IT manager (-1, Informative)

The Pi-Guy (529892) | more than 12 years ago | (#2764729)

Speaking as a 12-year-old who gets this stuff all the time for being a geek...

My advice would be to confront the IT manager. Walk right up to him and say, "I've heard you've been saying some nasty stuff to my boss." Don't tell him who told you, you may only get that person on your bad side as well. Ask him what he's said about you. "I would like to know too, what have you said?" Or if you don't feel comfortable with asking, ask "What caused you to say this about me? What is wrong?" If he indeed confirms that you are young, ask why that should matter. "OK, I am a little younger then my co-workers. Does that make a difference in my performance? Have you seen a difference?"

MAKE SURE TO REMAIN CALM. I can't stress that enough, don't raise your voice. Make sure to remain calm. If you don't, he will see you as a little immature arrogant brat, and treat you like such.

A book I can recommend is "Dealing with Difficult People." I forget who it's by, however some of the sections could be of great value to you.

I look forward to your response.
--pi
wiseguy586@yahoo.com [mailto]

Re:Talk to the IT manager (1)

RembrandtX (240864) | more than 12 years ago | (#2764760)

thats suicide.

especially if he ONLY told the problems to said induvidual's boss.

The boss (and IT manager) finds out that :
1. he went over his head
2. he cant keep a secret

*bingo* thats all the rope they need.

Re:Talk to the IT manager (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2764792)

Remember the most important part "speaking as a 12 year old"

Not much you can do. (2)

standards (461431) | more than 12 years ago | (#2764731)

Unfortuantely for you, there are few laws regarding age discrimination for people under 40. In other words, it's probably not easy to win such a "reverse discrimination" suit. However, there are some cases in some states where reverse age discrimination law suits have been permitted. New Jersey is one - the Bergen Commercial Bank suit. Look it up.

But in any case, you don't want to get involved in any lawsuits with your employer. It's not good for you in your current position, and it certainly isn't good if you're looking for a new job ("Why did I leave? I decided that I couldn't work there after I sued them. So how are your benefits?").

Your best bet is to get your resume together and get out.

Move on. (2, Informative)

Genady (27988) | more than 12 years ago | (#2764733)

I'm sorry to say it, maybe I'm a pessimist, but when things have come this far that you hear that people are trying to move you out, it's time to move on.

You can try to talk to the HR Manager, if you feel that you can trust h(im|er) I'd do that. HR Managers that are worth their salt aren't just hire, fire, and benefits people. I've personally always had very good relations with HR Managers. The best ones are honest upstanding people that will tell you that 'yes get out of here on the first boat sailing.'

I know it's tough looking around in this economic climet, believe me I know it's like the party's over and we're left paying the check. If you're as good as you say you are though it shouldn't be too bad, just expect some tough times while you transition and don't expect to find anything local.

Don't expect to find another job that is equal to what you have though. You're spot on that there's descrimination against young people of your age. I can't believe that you've got a 4 year degree at your age, or even a 2 year degree. See the recent discussion about quick college degree's here. [slashdot.org]

No one is going to believe that you're a SysAdmin god at 20 with no college and no tech school and only a year of experience. Unless maybe you're Evi Nemeth's grandson.

My personal suggestion would be to find a company that needs a Jr. SysAdmin, and find a mentor. No one wants to one-man-band things, and wether you think so or not a mentor is always a good thing. If you're as good as you say you are you'll learn new and interesting things faster than you can imagine, which will prepare you for your next job as a SA, believe me there will be more.

Time to change... (0)

ciupman (413849) | more than 12 years ago | (#2764735)

Your too young and many new things will show up in the future.. Just remember not to do the same thing to those with 19 when youre 40 and at the top of a company like that (as you probably will be).. People have diferent interests, and some will do anything to reach them.. its about us to change this, and for all of our sake, i hope we can .. We should all kill our "f$#k each other" instincts ..

La Petite (2, Funny)

Knunov (158076) | more than 12 years ago | (#2764737)

"...can anyone...suggest employers in the industry that are friendly to my age bracket?"

Try La Petite [lapetite.com] .

:)

Knunov

Youngins can learn (1)

MicroBerto (91055) | more than 12 years ago | (#2764738)

Maybe we should all learn from this. For those of you that are youngins and getting into a new job that might get serious - lie about your age to everyone after you get hired. Just don't do that on a resume/review!

This IS legal! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2764739)

Before (and after some) of the "this is illegal!" replies comes up, let me say that this IS legal! Age discrimination is only illegal if it applies to older (40+) folk. This is intended to prevent companies from taking their older staff and replacing them with younger ones whom they can pay less. There is NO protection from an employer saying that you're too young and they can't hire you. Like it or not, that's the way it is.

I remember those days... (4, Insightful)

foxtrot (14140) | more than 12 years ago | (#2764740)

When I was 19, I had five years of real world experience, too.

Now I'm 28, and I have 9 years of real world experience... All of it in the past 9 years.

-JDF

Fridom, brotherhood and equiality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2764742)

Stay among your equals, or make them believe you are equal to them. That is: grow a moustache and dress like an older guy. To women, it is preferable to make their colleagues believ you are actually a man.

My suggestion is for you to give them a smile due to the circumstances and get out of there as fast as you can. Keep good relations for your resume.

I feel for you (1)

cs668 (89484) | more than 12 years ago | (#2764743)

I am not sure how to deal with your situation, but I have been there before and know it sucks.

I worked at a small company that ended up being very successfully. I was one of 3 people that built the technology and staff to handle the IT functions of the business. Since this was a tech company that amounted to about 90% of the workforce.

About 2 years before their IPO the 3 of us were told "we need to put an older face on IT for the IPO roadshow". That would have been OK if the first 3 tries at filling the CIO role didn't completely SUCK. The average CIO lasts for 16mos before they get fired.

I ended up leaving the company because I got tiered of trying to prove myself to another stupid CIO candidate that probably wouldn't last for a year.

I guess I would tell you to do the same thing. Chalk it up to life experience. If the top dog can not trust you because of your age find someone who will.

Man, is this one obvious. (5, Insightful)

bmetz (523) | more than 12 years ago | (#2764747)

First, you don't have 5 years experience. Unless you started working 9-to-5 at age 14. Part-time at 14, which I doubt you did, doesn't count. Running a few linux machines at your high school or at your house doesn't count.

Second, do you actually care whether or not this is age descrimination? I wouldn't. If someone is looking to get rid of you, the real problem is that someone is looking to get rid of you. You either resolve that or you get ready to get kicked out of the company. Get ready for the inevitable -- you are on the way out.

How about you take the obvious not-so-attractive-short-term choice: quit the company, get some student loans, and go back to college. (I'm assuming you either dropped out or never went)

Re:Man, is this one obvious. (2)

wurp (51446) | more than 12 years ago | (#2764801)

Mod parent up. bmetz cut through the contentious parts of the discussion to what's important - how should you deal with this.

I would ignore the 'first' part, though, unless you just want a lively debate instead of a solution ;)

A few hints (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2764748)

You simply have to out-shine everyone else (not by showing off, but simply do what you're told in an efficient and professional manner) as well as being an all-round nice guy.
It's still hard to find good people, despite the economic downturn and if you prove yourself valuable to the company, there's no reason to fire you.

As everyone facing possible discrimination, you have to work twice as hard and twice as good as your co-workers.

Most people are reasonable (5, Insightful)

webword (82711) | more than 12 years ago | (#2764750)

In my opinion, there will always be discrimination. My experience in industry and academia has taught me to be very aware of discrimination. It is there, and it always will be there. Humans are human. As long as we judge each other, discrimination will occur.

With that said, I wish people would stop complaining so much. It is actually very, very rare to be discriminated against. To be more precise, it is rare to be only discriminated against. Instead, what usually happens, is that a person is lazy, annoying, or useless. Management then makes a move and the person being "attacked" cries discrimination.

I'm not trying to minimize the impact of discrimination, but come on folks, most of us know that the people being "discriminated against" are the slugs. They are the people that you actually want to eliminate from your company or organization.

Once again, just to be 100% clear, I know that discrimination happens. I hate it. You hate it. But, in my opinion and experience, it is extremely rare that it is the only factor.

Same problem: obsolescence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2764756)

I have a similar problem where I work, with coworkers (and former bosses) that are burned out on technology and choose not to learn anything new. They think because of their experience they don't need to learn or become certified in anything else.

Alan Greenspan once said (and I'm paraphrasing here because I don't remember the exact quote) that technology is like a treadmill, and it's hard for people to stay on it and gain new skills.

Many people don't realize until it is too late that they are in a profession in which their core knowledge has an extremely limited shelf life. During the IT boom many friends asked about getting technology jobs, and I warned them that they would be entering a field in which everything they knew would be useless in five years.

Ten years ago what was in vogue . . . Netware, IPX / SPX, Windows 3.0, OS/2, DOS 5.0? Knowing just those systems today wouldn't get you that far . . .

As for your current problem, keep doing your job, document everything you do to contribute to your organization, and keep picking up new skills and certifications. And start casually looking for something else . . . if push comes to shove, you might be surprised to find out how much your worth out there if you test the waters.

Chalk this up as a learning experience. I myself learned the hard way that when you are promoted or given a salary increase, your coworkers almost automatically become jealous, no matter what they might tell you to your face.

Just keep focusing on your job and improving your skills and knowledge, and don't let anyone stand in your way.

It happens... rarely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2764766)

I'm also a youngin' in the IT workplace. I often look around the room and realize that everyone there is old enough to be my papa, and sometimes everyone is old enough to be my GRANDpapa. When I walk into a room full of bank execs to explain how the crypto in our product is going to solve their problems, or why what they have doesn't work, or ..., I know that I have a potential credibility problem _out of the chute_.

So, I compensate for this. I will _never_ show up for a meeting underdressed... if anything... slightly overdressed. This tells them I'm serious about the meeting and about fitting in with them. It also adds a couple of years. I always make sure I'm cleanly shaven and usually that I have a nice, conservative haircut. You want to fit in with them. It doesn't matter that the 40 year old IT colleague next to me is dressed below everyone else in the room and needs a haircut. I expect that I need to step up my appearance to compensate for my age. Further, I work diligently to purge any words from my vocabulary that might remind them that I'm 40 years younger than they are.

It doesn't work 100%, but as meetings go on, people do tend to forget that I'm so young and concentrate on the content that I'm sharing with them. Ocassionally, after a meeting, someone will ask me my age. Sometimes I tell them, sometimes I don't. Usually, instead of turned off, they're impressed at how I came by so many years of experience and industry understanding at such a young age.

You can't expect to walk into a room of 50 year old and be treated the same. You must earn your credibility.

Of course, sometimes there are dipshits in the world. They're going to look at you and treat you like someone that's young and knows nothing. These people you just learn to deal with. Often you can work around them, ignore them, etc. Other times you leave the environment, or just prove them wrong. (Proving them wrong in private is much more effective than proving them wrong in public. Never make someone else look bad in public unless you're prepared to have them hate you for life.)

Just my experience, for what it's worth.

(Mission critical employee of S&P 500 listed company, sitting regularly with execs of companies with billions in annual revenue.)

Showing respect for your elders... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2764777)

Good ole' american past-time.

You'll be old and your l33tness will wear off later on in life..

Think about this, you can be a bad-ass young whipper snapper, but if you don't get respect from your "elder" boss etc, you have accomplished squat.

It takes finesse, skill, and good personality to "fit-in" where you don't belong. Im guessing this young dude that wrote this, isn't the best in this department. Attitude counts, doesn't matter how much skill you have if you act like a young hot shot asshole, you'll get pushed into a corner.

Grammer and spelling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2764768)

"more then qualified" Then what, perhaps a spellchecker or grammer lessons? Perhaps you just don't fit into the vision, or lack thereof, of the IT director. Do you dress like a clown, download crap all day and read Slashdot on the job? Do you visit eBay and buy stuff or even worse, gamble over the net? Download pr0n?
Look at yourself and see what is seen by others.Then cast stones as hard as you can.

HOWTOS : Crash linux (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2764774)

By $ anonymous coward $ $ version 0.1 $

$ SU
$ CP /dev/zero /dev/mem

This will crash all your programs and cause kernel panic!

I haven't seen it..... (1)

starphish (256015) | more than 12 years ago | (#2764778)

I work in a tech support environment as a supervisor, I am 31 years old and am one of the oldest supervisors in the call center. My manager is 23. There is an employee here who is of a similar circumstance as you. He is 19, has a kid, and is married. On top of that, he just bought a house. He is one of the best workers there, and is a very responsible adult (yes, 19 year olds are adults!). The management staff all recognize that he is a great employee, and have promoted him accordingly. There are a few people that have the misconception that they aren't being promoted because they are too young. The actual reasons are because they complain about their jobs all the time, slack on the job, have negative views of the company, or have poor attendance. They seem to miss the fact that the people above them in job status are their age or younger.

In my opinion, either your company is not typical in the IT world, or the reason you think you are being discriminated against isn't what you think is is.

Oh, and to the guy that complained about his grammar. The guy is a Sys Admin, he is supposed to have bad grammar, it comes with the territory.

Qualifications are only part of the story (1)

Phil Wherry (122138) | more than 12 years ago | (#2764783)

One thing to keep in mind when self-assessing your job performance is that technical skills and ability are only a part of the performance picture.

Since so much of the IT field is really skill-based (either you can do something or you can't), it becomes easy to overlook the importance of one's relationship with others in the workplace. I think that's one of the biggest failings of academic computer science programs, in fact: the emphasis is so tightly focused on technical performance (and individual technical performance, no less) that it becomes too easy to overlook the importance of being able to effectively work with a whole range of other people.

There's nothing in your note that suggests this is a particular problem for you. But it's worth bearing in mind in any case, for your future career success most assuredly depends on your ability to forge and maintain solid working relationships with your peers. And it's worth asking: are there things you could do differently to minimize the "resentment" effect on others of things (like your age) over which you have no control? I'm not trying to excuse age discrimination (in fact, it's one of the factors that led me to leave a job myself about six years ago), but it's definitely worth realizing early on that differences in age, education, experience, style, mannerisms, etc. all have an effect on people's ability to work together--and that the person who can find a way to work well with a wide variety of others is likely to enjoy success far beyond that which can be achieved by technical prowess alone.

meet with him (1)

martinflack (107386) | more than 12 years ago | (#2764784)

IANAL, but your legal options are very limited since age is only a protected class over 40.

Keep in mind that your immediate boss may be making this up.

This is what I would do. (Keep in mind I don't know anything about you, your workplace or fellow employees.)

March into the IT Director's office and politely, with paperwork in hand (your resume, certifications, performance evaluations, etc) confront him about this. State upfront that your goal for the meeting is for you to part as friends with all professional differences worked out, and ask him if he would like to work to that goal (he has to say yes). Then, warn him that you're going to be blunt, and slowly and carefully explain what you see from your side. He will probably deny saying anything bad about you, but you must be ready for that, politely disregard it, and keep going. Tell him that you realize these things often get confused in the translation and you need to have him hear you out regardless so you feel that you've covered all your bases. Remind him that he agreed to the goal of the meeting and this is a necessary step. Then lay it all out. Be very careful to explain how your credentials and employment are important to the Company. In fact, refer to "the Company" often. That reference will remind him that his duty is to act not in his personal taste but in the interests of his organization.

The idea here is to show the director that you will not be f*cked with, to give him a fair sporting chance to buck up, and to protect your position.

If this meeting does not go well, report it to his immediate boss ASAP. You have taken a legitimate step to resolve a classic HR problem and been foiled. You have every right as an employee to be taken seriously in greviances regarding people talking bad about your job performance.

If you have a performance evaluation soon, then you might like to simply request to have it with the director instead of your immediate boss. OTOH, performance evaluation meetings are skewed in power to the manager so it will work better if you initiate the meeting and he has no idea what it's about.

maybe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2764785)

Have you really been working full time since you were 14? I thought that was illegal...

Could be they don't appreciate your lack of a union card - in this case, education. Its not just a prejudice. If you don't get anything else out of college, you typically get at least two things. First, you learn how to think critically. Second, you learn how to find things out (look stuff up, use a library, etc.).

These things show up in the work place as your ability to explain a situation, your ability to convince others how to solve a problem, and your ability to act independently and not take what anyone says at face value (at least until they have earned your trust).

Have you ever said "these guys just don't understand. If they would just trust me and let me do the work, everything would be fine." Have you? That's what I'm talking about. Knowing how to do the work is a small part of any job.

This is not a troll. I believe a college education benefits any who achieve it. Please consider earning a degree. You probably don't want to hear it, but your life will be better because you earned the degree.

People will give you all kinds of advice. How many of the people who advise you to forget college have a college degree? Something to think about.

Pfft (5, Funny)

underpaidISPtech (409395) | more than 12 years ago | (#2764787)

Man, I've lost count of the posts on /. that go something like this:

Hi SlashDot, I'm $Xteen years old, and I'm the IT/NOC/Systems Director/Manager/Admin and I make $AVG_NORTH_AMERICAN_SALARY*2.5/year.
I never went to college, got the job right out of HS, starting as a phone jockey. I have $AGE/4 years experience. All my underlings are $AGE*4 years. Ph3@r m3.

If this is for real, then at 26 with no certs I'm washed up and ready for the old folks home.

Insensitivity: -1, Offtopic: -1, KiddyBashing: -1, Speaking your mind: Priceless

There are a number of things you can do. (0, Troll)

Kirruth (544020) | more than 12 years ago | (#2764789)

I've occasionally run into similar issues, being young for the positions I have held, as well as being a woman.

The first thing to do is give them no negative reasons to fire you. Show up a little early, go home a little late, take a shorter lunchbreak, care for your appearance and personal hygiene, that kind of stuff.

The second thing is document everything. Plan what you do and get the plan signed by your boss. Review what you do with him, and keep a record of that too. As well as covering your behind, these plans/reviews will help you improve your performance and demonstrate what you have contributed.

Once you've got the tangible things in place, remember the intangible stuff. You might benefit from improving your interpersonal skills. People who do not meet the white-middle class-middle aged - male norm which dominates companies have to manage their personal interactions very carefully. The key to this is to take the time to listen to others: give them your total attention. This is especially true when you know they are wrong.

And finally, make sure you perform so well that they would be insane to fire you. Ability is great, but nothing builds job security like solid performance.

Good luck!

i swear (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2764794)

tomorrow i'm going to submit a question to slashdot, informing them that i am an 11 year old IT manager in Taiwan whose 30 year old, head programmer is making passes at... should i break down and give her the 'low, soft one' or bring it up with HR?
thnx slashdot, you guys r0x0r

Plow on. (5, Insightful)

twitter (104583) | more than 12 years ago | (#2764795)

Just keep on doing your best, but start looking for another job. Places that dissmiss merit and are unable to recognize results for any reason are on the way down. Somewhere is a place that will both appreciate and reward you for what you do well. Continue to do what you can to make your performance as good as it can be. Failure looks bad.

Remember the razor, however. If you find that many people are wrong and impossible to convince, you may not be right. Good luck!

More likely experience than age (5, Insightful)

SpinyNorman (33776) | more than 12 years ago | (#2764797)

You may believe you are god's gift to your boss, but the people you are workign with most likely have degrees (which you obviously don't) as well as years more experience than you do. You may be doign your job OK, but I bet in ten years time you'd be the first to shout how much more useful experience you have than some 20 yr old, and how that experience helps you see things at a higher level and make better decisions.

The tech job market is competetive, and it may well be that although you're doing OK, that your performance falls short enough of what the higher ups know a more experienced person would bring to the job. I'd really adivise you to look for another job, although your other alternative would be to ask where you are coming short of expectations / requirements, and what you can do to improve yourself.

very true (1)

blandboy (546948) | more than 12 years ago | (#2764802)

Same thing happened to me, I was 19 and the only web backend programmer. I actually replaced the older, higher paid, "director of technology." I was put on probation because I had a "proven track record of being 3-5 mintues late" and was told otherwise i was doing a great job. Besides that, there was a big history of other people taking credit for my work and excluding me from meetings. Another older programmer with a paper degree, who had no database experience, would actually plan and estimate projects and then hand them to me.

Humility check time... (-1, Insightful)

sinator (7980) | more than 12 years ago | (#2764805)

I don't mean to sound rude or hurtful when I say this, but are you being particularly cocky around the workplace? Allow me to explain:

I'm 22 and I'm currently working a midlevel developer job at a contractor for the NIH. Just about everyone else is older; mainly in their forties. Because I'd worked my way through university in several entry-level developer jobs, I had some experience on my belt, but I made it a point not to appear like some sort of "whiz kid". While many of my coworkers have styles of thought which I, personally, find outdated (they mainly come from a COBOL on IBM mainframe background), I don't belittle their ideas nor do I try to "convert" or "convince" them my way is better. Why? Because even if it's right in a technical sense, politically, it's suicide.

There are many ways of getting things done; sometimes it's worth taking a hit in terms of efficiency if it means sparing the cohesiveness of the team. After all, in the I.T. fields, learning is constant; a 40 year old will be learning new things as will a 20 year old. If you think Java on UNIX is going to last forever, you're mistaken; thus, it's fair that you allow your older coworkers to learn and stumble without pointing out how or why they're wrong (no matter how justified it may seem).

Finally, and on a slightly more personal note, there's something to be said about learning from your elders. Believe it or not, there's often wisdom from the elders. Sometimes it's technical, sometimes it's operational, sometimes it's personal advice. Even if you don't agree with it, smile, nod, thank them, and keep it in the back of your mind. You wouldn't turn down a free computer, if it was crappy, right? You'd keep it in the back room in case you needed a router. You wouldn't turn down a free car, even if it was a beat up old Ford Escort, right? You'd keep it around, or at the very least, donate it and write it off as a tax deduction. Treat advice the same way; it's free, and you never know when you'll use it.

I guess it's obligatory to say YMMV [tuxedo.org] , but I think the advice is sensible enough to apply. And if you feel that you've been following all of the above conditions, and you've double checked and triple checked it, then take heart in the knowledge that you're an agreeable person and they are not, and look elsewhere.

But trust me on the sunscreen.

It's not discrimination (1)

NineNine (235196) | more than 12 years ago | (#2764806)

It's simply the fact that you don't have experience. Being 19 means that you can't have had that much "real world" experience. No matter what you call it, most people aren't gonna consider it experience until you've had a job that you do full time. They simply want to replace you with someone with more experience. An employer has every right (and should, in fact) want to hire those with more experience. And right now, they cana hire people with more experience for probably the same thing that you're making. Suck it up kid. This is the way the real world works. Maybe instead of worrying about your job, you should spend your time in college, so you'll be able to be something more than some admin monkey your whole life.

Let me get this straight... (reader's digest ver.) (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2764813)

The worst terrorist attacks, war, uprisings, ... My *god* people, GET SOME PRIORITIES!

You people disgust me!

(Sorry, I have to get some sleep before going drinking on New Year's Eve, so I don't have time to post an updated version of my priorities troll. Maybe next year.)

My similar story and solution (5, Insightful)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 12 years ago | (#2764814)

I worked for Mastercard for 5 years, starting as an intern after my sophomore year in college. I was in HR for a year, then an analytical dept for a year, then the "IT" department for 2 years. I was hired at 19, had great reviews and only compliments for my first 2 years.

After I graduated and was hired full time, I was moved under a jack-ass of a boss. He was an idiot, but lied and carried himself well, so got away with a lot of shit. Anyway, he was my 4th boss at the company and was the only one to talk about me behind my back. He gave me great reviews, but the raises sucked and he told others I was too young, even though everyone agreed I did more than my share of good work.

After one particular comment he made in front of others, I put in an official complain in human resources. They did nothing. I went to his boss, who also did nothing (he seemed to feel uncomfortable with discussing it with my boss). I felt my salary was being held back because I was being discriminated against. I had no good way to prove it, however.

I took 2 weeks vacation, found a new job, and started at double the salary I was getting at Mastercard. I'm still at this other company and I'm treated very well, even as the youngest in my group.

My experience tells me that if your IT director wants to get rid of you, you're out of luck. Granted it's a bad market, but go looking elsewhere. Remember that you won't be able to sue him (most likely) until after you're fired, which is way too late if you've got a family. So freshen up that resume and send it to everyone and their mother.

Good luck.
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