Reid v. Google, Inc., 50 Cal. 4th 512 (2010)

Brian Reid worked as Google’s director of operations and director of engineering for fewer than two years before he was terminated due to job elimination and poor performance. Reid, who was 52 years old at the time of his hire, reported to Wayne Rosing (age 55) and at times to Urs Hölzle (age 38), though he regularly interacted with other high-level employees of the company, including some who were in their late 20’s. Reid alleged that Hölzle and other employees made derogatory age-related remarks to him, saying that his ideas were “obsolete” and “too old to matter,” that he was “slow,” “fuzzy,” “sluggish,” and “lethargic” and that he did not “display a sense of urgency.” Other co-workers allegedly called Reid an “old man” and “old guy,” an “old fuddy-duddy,” told him his knowledge was “ancient” and joked that Reid’s CD jewel case office placard should be an “LP” instead of a “CD.” When Reid was informed no other positions were available for him at Google, he was told he was not a “cultural fit” at the company.

Although the trial court granted Google’s motion for summary judgment, the Court of Appeal reversed, holding that Reid had raised a triable issue of material fact as to whether the stated reason for his termination was pretextual. The California Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeal, holding that the ageist remarks were not irrelevant even though they were made by non-decision makers outside the context of the decisional process. In so ruling, the Supreme Court rejected the “stray remarks” doctrine’s “categorical exclusion of evidence” and determined that the court of appeal was correct in considering such evidence and in reversing the summary judgment. The Supreme Court also decided that Google’s evidentiary objections were preserved for appeal even though the trial court judge did not expressly rule on them. Compare Reeves v. MV Transp., Inc., 186 Cal. App. 4th 666 (2010) (summary judgment properly granted to employer that rejected older applicant for staff attorney position who did not have clearly superior credentials).

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Photo of Tony Oncidi Tony Oncidi

Anthony J. Oncidi is the co-chair of the Labor & Employment Law Department and heads the West Coast Labor & Employment group in the firm’s Los Angeles office.

Tony represents employers and management in all aspects of labor relations and employment law, including…

Anthony J. Oncidi is the co-chair of the Labor & Employment Law Department and heads the West Coast Labor & Employment group in the firm’s Los Angeles office.

Tony represents employers and management in all aspects of labor relations and employment law, including litigation and preventive counseling, wage and hour matters, including class actions, wrongful termination, employee discipline, Title VII and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, executive employment contract disputes, sexual harassment training and investigations, workplace violence, drug testing and privacy issues, Sarbanes-Oxley claims and employee raiding and trade secret protection. A substantial portion of Tony’s practice involves the defense of employers in large class actions, employment discrimination, harassment and wrongful termination litigation in state and federal court as well as arbitration proceedings, including FINRA matters.

Tony is recognized as a leading lawyer by such highly respected publications and organizations as the Los Angeles Daily JournalThe Hollywood Reporter, and Chambers USA, which gives him the highest possible rating (“Band 1”) for Labor & Employment.  According to Chambers USA, clients say Tony is “brilliant at what he does… He is even keeled, has a high emotional IQ, is a great legal writer and orator, and never gives up.” Other clients report:  “Tony has an outstanding reputation” and he is “smart, cost effective and appropriately aggressive.” Tony is hailed as “outstanding,” particularly for his “ability to merge top-shelf lawyerly advice with pragmatic business acumen.” He is highly respected in the industry, with other commentators lauding him as a “phenomenal strategist” and “one of the top employment litigators in the country.”

“Tony is the author of the treatise titled Employment Discrimination Depositions (Juris Pub’g 2020;, co-author of Proskauer on Privacy (PLI 2020), and, since 1990, has been a regular columnist for the official publication of the Labor and Employment Law Section of the State Bar of California and the Los Angeles Daily Journal.

Tony has been a featured guest on Fox 11 News and CBS News in Los Angeles. He has been interviewed and quoted by leading national media outlets such as The National Law JournalBloomberg News, The New York Times, and Newsweek and Time magazines. Tony is a frequent speaker on employment law topics for large and small groups of employers and their counsel, including the Society for Human Resource Management (“SHRM”), PIHRA, the National CLE Conference, National Business Institute, the Employment Round Table of Southern California (Board Member), the Council on Education in Management, the Institute for Corporate Counsel, the State Bar of California, the California Continuing Education of the Bar Program and the Los Angeles and Beverly Hills Bar Associations. He has testified as an expert witness regarding wage and hour issues as well as the California Fair Employment and Housing Act and has served as a faculty member of the National Employment Law Institute. He has served as an arbitrator in an employment discrimination matter.

Tony is an appointed Hearing Examiner for the Los Angeles Police Commission Board of Rights and has served as an Adjunct Professor of Law and a guest lecturer at USC Law School and a guest lecturer at UCLA Law School.