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Handling Discrimination in the IT Workplace? 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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Handling Discrimination in the IT Workplace?

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  • by wo1verin3 ( 473094 ) on Sunday December 30, 2001 @11:41AM (#2764671) Homepage
    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.
    • 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).
      • by Verteiron ( 224042 ) on Sunday December 30, 2001 @02:15PM (#2765180) Homepage
        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.

        This is no joke. I worked for a large corporation (hint: they make big green tractors) as second-level tech support. Basically I oversaw the users in a zone and was responsible for ALL of that zone's IT needs. Just after I set up the systems and such for an international conference with 180 attendees (and got a commendation for it), I was fired without any reason given. They didn't even tell me right away; my security card wouldn't let me leave the building and some guy had to use his to let me out.

        Upon being notified the next workday that my contract had been terminated, I called a friend working inside to see if I could find out what was going on. Apparently the inside story was that I'd been using company resources to "hack a server in north Korea" (which wasn't remotely true). But nobody had seen any logs or any other evidence. This was purely on the word of the IT director. I was 19 at the time and all the others in my position were 25+. Of course, I was a contract employee, so I had no legal recourse, but if I had ever heard anything about that story outside of that company, I'd sue. I mean, firing me for being too young is one thing, but making up some bogus bullshit story to blame it on?
        • Of course, I was a contract employee, so I had no legal recourse,

          I hope you know by now that this is not true.

          Discrimination (age, race, sex, marital status...) is never legal, whether you are a contract employee or not, whether your contract says you can be terminated without cause or not.

          Of course, this is not legal advice, IANAL, and you may well not have prevailed in a legal action. But you would have been well within your rights. This is (one of the reasons) why we have courts, contingency-fee lawyers, and anti-discrimination laws.


        • by Skyshadow ( 508 ) on Sunday December 30, 2001 @05:28PM (#2765710) Homepage
          Well, if your boss was telling people you were hacking from work, you'd have a pretty darned heafty slander suit.

          It's been a while since I had a law class, but I think you could hit him for lost wages at the very least, and probably for a lot more. Sounds like he has it coming.

  • Proof is good. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by goodwid ( 102323 )
    #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. (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      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.
  • More details needed. (Score:5, Informative)

    by juuri ( 7678 ) on Sunday December 30, 2001 @11:43AM (#2764681) Homepage
    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.
    • 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.

    • 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 ;-)
      • by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Sunday December 30, 2001 @01:47PM (#2765085)
        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, it's not. While it is certainly valuable experience -- I'm a professional software developer now, and you can bet I listed my early part-time programming work on my CV at first -- comparing that to full experience of the same length of time is misleading at best. A part-time job such as you describe does not provide the same level of immersion into the position as a full-time job would. It simply isn't as "full on".

        Quite rightly, almost no-one in the industry is going to give you the same amount of credit in your position as a guy who's been running a network full-time for 8 years. Furthermore, if you go around making exaggerated claims like that, they'll mark you down for the implicit dishonesty, and possibly use it as grounds for dismissal at a later date.

    • Well, I can't speak for the person who wrote the original post, but I can relate a little something of my background.

      I'm a senior Unix system administrator, 28 years old, and have been *working* in the "computer industry" for 15 years now.

      I purchased my first computer when I was 10 (a TI-99 4/A... and 16k was all you needed back then. ;) and "played" / taught myself to program, etc... until I was about 14.

      A local computer store that I frequented needed a part-time technician, and the owner offered me a job (after school of course, and "off the record" as I wasn't legally old enough to be employed). I learned a bit about small businesses, got some hands-on experience with hardware I would otherwise never have had the opportunity to work with, and made some money.

      When I was 16 I went to work (again, "part time" which translated to about 32 hours a week for me) for ComputerLand, a large Canadian VAR, again as a technician... and from there it snowballed (and I moved from technician to software development): SHL SystemHouse, Dell Computer Corp, Nortel, Mitel, Espial, and a few more. Eventually, I ended up going to school part time and working full-time... oddly enough, the hours didn't really change all that much. ;)

      I can honestly say that my 14 years of experience include nearly 13 years of "professional" experience - ie: client management, project proposals, justifications, reviews, functional specs, etc...

      I can relate to the poster - I often found that people didn't take me seriously at first because of my age. Never had a problem with someone trying to fire me though. 15 year-old "know it alls" often don't (at least, not everything), so I tried to remind myself of that now and then, and made an effort to at least listen to the other person, no matter how old (or wrong) I thought they were. :)

      I was also lucky enough to have some great mentors along the way, that schooled me in the fine art of memory management, OpenGL and more.

      So, it might not be common but 19 year olds with 5 years of experience *do* happen now and then.
    • by OnyxRaven ( 9906 ) on Sunday December 30, 2001 @01:57PM (#2765119) Homepage
      Bah, I'm a 19 year old about to turn 20 who has 5 years of experience, and the 5 year pin to prove it. I probably cant get as far as this poster though because he does have certifications and I have but one, a CNA.

      I've gone through 4 IT managers, and all but the current one have treated me as a kid, not taking me seriously. This one though knows I know more about the history of the office's network than anyone else there, so my skills are valuable, and even though I dont work much during the semester, I still get called about some obscure issues predating any of the staff there. I'm still offered my position back at every break.

      I have been ignored quite a few times, because I'm young, and they ask for one of my older coworkers. But there are still quite a few who value my expertice and knowledge about the systems we maintain.

      I have never been offered a promotion, though I have gotten raises by threatening offers from other companies (which I have recieved). I understand why not, because I'm not a full time employee.

      But if this poster is full time, has intimate knowledge of the system, and is getting 'bullied' by older staff because of his age and his possibly more current knowledge, it does sound like age discrimination, and he should seek help with it outside of the IT department (office manager, HR manager, etc).
    • by fm6 ( 162816 )
      You are 19 and currently have 5 years experience? I don't buy it.
      When I firt got into computers, I knew some high-school kids who were doing serious computer work, including one guy who was the sysadmin at his family's business (plus using down time to sell computer dating services). And this was thirty years ago, when computers were still big expensive boxes with lots of blinking lights, and few people had access to them. Computing's always been a young person's game.

      A couple years ago I was in one of those big warehouses that sell used office furniture. They had a fairly nice network covering the whole building, with a good POS and inventory setup. When I complimented the owner on it, he got all proud and parenty and introduced me to his son, the sysadmin. who was maybe 15, probably a little younger. He'd not only chosen the hardware and software, he'd pulled all the cable himself. ("Easy in an old building. Walls and floors aren't hard to get through.") Can't imagine a competent IS manager who wouldn't want to hire somebody like that.

      We all know stories like this. Teenagers are just the right age to pick up these kinds of abstrat technical concepts, and they enjoy the work. Of course, in the process they show up old farts like me. Hence the resentment.

  • 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 :)

    • 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!
    • Leave without notice.

      That's not big, and it's not clever. For all the millions of employees worldwide, this is a small industry. You might want a reference from your current boss in future, or you might later wind up working again for someone at your present company, either back there or elsewhere. If you demonstrate that you're a grade A scumball by leaving without notice or badmouthing the boss/company as you go, it may well come back to haunt you sooner or later.

      Never underestimate the power of networking. Leaving a good impression can give you contacts in the industry who can valuable open doors for you later on. On the other hand, a reputation as someone awkward or unhelpful will spread far faster and further than you'd like.

  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Sunday December 30, 2001 @11:44AM (#2764686) Homepage
    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.
  • 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.
    • by Brento ( 26177 ) <brento AT brentozar DOT com> on Sunday December 30, 2001 @11:52AM (#2764712) Homepage
      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.
      • 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.
  • by Brento ( 26177 ) <brento AT brentozar DOT com> on Sunday December 30, 2001 @11:45AM (#2764690) Homepage
    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.
    • by mwdib ( 56263 ) on Sunday December 30, 2001 @12:07PM (#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.

      • The guy shouldn't be left guessing as to whether or not there is some sort of discrimination occurring. If management has an issue with some aspect of the employee's behavior or performance it is supposed to be brought to the attention of the employee. If management has not specifically mentioned a performance problem to the employee then the employee is right to think that there is not one. It is maneuvers by management such as what is being described by the poster that typically results in a lawsuit. Any halfway decent employer would have shielded themselves against this sort of liability by using standard human resources policies, therefore this employer must suck and the guy should seek employment elsewhere.

        • The guy shouldn't be left guessing as to whether or not there is some sort of discrimination occurring. If management has an issue with some aspect of the employee's behavior or performance it is supposed to be brought to the attention of the employee.

          It's entirely possible they did bring it to his attention, but he didn't notice. Maybe they made suggestions, or expressed misgivings, but he just misinterpreted them. Not everything is always spelled out in black and white.
      • by Otter ( 3800 ) on Sunday December 30, 2001 @02:17PM (#2765188) Journal
        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.

        I was trying to give him the benefit of the doubt, up until:
        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.

        If this were an isolated incident, maybe. At the point where everywhere you work, people "automatically" hate you, it's time to start looking in the mirror instead of deciding that it's always got to be age discrimination.

        • Perhaps so, perhaps not. I've had situations where I can run down the list of everything I've done, and basically be "hired" (yeah, pending interview, blah, blah, blah - but they are really interested). Of course, it's obligatory to mention how young I am. It's also a quick way to end a conversation and watch a job disappear. No interview, no interest, no further info. You're how old? Good bye.
      • That said, I'd offer the following advice:

        [Excellent advice snipped]

        And in addition to the more obvious advantages of following this advice (finding out where you are and what you need to do), if you can confront the situation calmly and professionally you will go a long way towards demonstrating the maturity that your superiors may think you lack.

        I was the youngest employee in several programming shops (time has cured that "problem") and I had my share of age-related issues. In retrospect, however, I can see that the problems had little to do with age and a lot to do with maturity and professionalism. I often acted like a brilliant, arrogant young punk and was upset when I was not treated as well as my (I thought) less capable but more reliable "peers".

        There were exceptions, but by and large I've decided that my age discrimination problems were of my own creation.

    • 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.

      I can personally attest to this with two examples.

      Example the first: I worked for a woman with about a decade of managing tech support experience. If we had a conflict with a customer, she was available and knew how to handle it without compromising the support team. We worked well together and when it was review time she showed lots of appreciation.

      Example the second: Same company, different boss, similar job. Worked for a dude with about 3 years experience as a manager. He was unavailable most of the time and when you had a conflict with a customer, automatically sided with the customer even if they were wrong. (This often meant hours sometimes days of extra work cleaning up messes that weren't ours to begin with.) As a result the technical folks all knew him to be an idiot.

      (Note to non-tech support people: Conflicts are 99% of the time revolving around "we want you to do something" that the customer isn't paying for or that we don't know how to do because we don't sell/service that product.)

      But HR still backed him when he decided to fire me over a short list of said conflicts.

      Moral of the story: If your boss that you directly report to is an idiot, QUIT! Don't even bother trying to document anything and try to "take action with HR" becauses in this economy a bad boss will trump up a "performance-issue" and replace you like that. Better to find another position (even within the company) before you even consider blowing the whistle. Until the economy is chugging again, don't even think about it.

      It's a lesson I learned by getting fired a week before Christmas.
    • by snookerdoodle ( 123851 ) on Sunday December 30, 2001 @12:37PM (#2764879)
      This is so true - I hope you read it again before disagreeing with it...

      Personally, I'm 44 with an engineering degree. 5 years ago, I began to transition from purely s/w dev (started professionally in 1982) to IT management. I now do very little development - Java stuff under Domino - and am responsible for several sites.

      I personally LOVE younger guys and have tried unsuccessfully to put some into network management positions. In retrospect, the lack of success really was due to lack of maturity. I know that had I been onsite personally, I could have shielded them from interpersonal dealings with Users. But I couldn't be there. Our next folks will be a little older with at least the fortitude to get a BS and/or MSCE-type certifications.

      Why? Because the job is more about managing and educating users (to make them Good Users) than about setting up networks, adding accounts, installing updates, etc.

      Here's what I think is my Big Quote:

      Until we see that our jobs are about relationships, not machines, we will always be perceived as immature.

      And rightly so.

    • Reading this post makes me so very happy that I work at a small startup that has NO politics like this. Sheesh!
    • by tshak ( 173364 ) on Sunday December 30, 2001 @01:25PM (#2765022) Homepage
      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.

      You make a well stated argument, but you are incredibly off base with your assumptions.

      1) It sounds like his immidiate bosses have never had a problem with him - they are most likely the ones to have done the hiring.

      2) There are a couple times - for ego/political reasons - that after I've been hired, a manager doesn't like me regardless of job performance. A relevant example: When I was younger (21), I critiqued a major system designed by an upper manager. Almost overnight I went from a "star" employee to a "devicive and incompetent" employee. He tried to fire me for 6 months until finally HE got fired (thanks to some seasoned consultants and other developers who reported similar findings).

      There are many reasons for a few select people to not like you, least of which is incompetance. Now, if his immidiate managers and fellow employees don't like him - for whatever reason - then it's time to find a new job. With age one does gain valuable life experience, but with the current information given, I would lean more towards illogical management then the possibility of less-than-mature decision making.
  • by ImaLamer ( 260199 ) <> on Sunday December 30, 2001 @11:49AM (#2764706) Homepage Journal
    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.
    • 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.
    • by s390 ( 33540 )
      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.
  • Quit. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jcr ( 53032 ) <> on Sunday December 30, 2001 @11:52AM (#2764716) Journal
    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.

  • by k4 ( 267349 ) on Sunday December 30, 2001 @11:54AM (#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...
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • Unfortuantely for you, there are few laws regarding age discrimination for people under 40.

      Heh. I once attended an HR-sponsored meeting for managers and other "senior" (me) staff. The HR guy noted that I was the ONLY person in the room who did NOT fall into one of the "protected" categories (I was not female,a racial minority, over 50, disabled, or a veteran). The company was mostly retired military, therefore I was perpetually the "youngster" as well as the "token civilian". Fortunately, I showed the same work ethic the military guys did, let the retired Colonels handle the politics, had a name-brand college degree and experience and enough smarts in the IT area to be valuable to them. I was already much older than the original poster, and had an excellent track record with the senior managers, so there were no questions about my "maturity" from within the company. Plenty from the other contractors we worked with, but that's one reason we had the retired colonels around - "flak supression" (esp. the retired F-4 driver).

      Point is, you MUST understand and play the politics. Which comes with experience; few people are fortunate to have been born with the skill. If your boss wants you out badly enough, he or she will succeeed. With the exception of union jobs, most of us are "employees at will" and can be terminated for almost any reason with minimal recourse.

      Unless this is a "to die for" job (I doubt it), take this as a warning and start looking for a better gig. Proving any form of employment discrimination is extremly difficult, even in cases of egregious behavior by the employer. If the apparent reason is your age, proving discrimination in a legal sense is almost impossible - age/experience CAN be used as a bonifide occupational qualification.

      Start looking - NOW.

  • Move on. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Genady ( 27988 )
    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. []

    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.
  • La Petite (Score:2, Funny)

    by Knunov ( 158076 )
    "...can anyone...suggest employers in the industry that are friendly to my age bracket?"

    Try La Petite [].


  • by foxtrot ( 14140 ) on Sunday December 30, 2001 @11:59AM (#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.

  • by bmetz ( 523 ) on Sunday December 30, 2001 @12:00PM (#2764747) Homepage
    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)
    • 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 ;)
    • I run into the same thing alot. Its very tempting to call age discrimination when in fact its just plain old "discrimination". Being 20 at a small company is tough for me for that exact reason. I walk around in a daze, wondering if they hate me because of age or for other more personal reasons.

      Then, at the end of the day, I just decide it doesn't matter why. I just go in every day and do the best frigging job I can - I don't complain, I dropped my contentious attitude, and I don't belittle other employees.

      Its also tough because I do work 8-5, M-F as well as go to school full-time in a fairly demanding program. My bosses really don't know the extent of my ongoing education - its none of their business - but more or less, I feel that I am being underpaid and taking much to much of the burden.

      But, like you said, the options are clear and the real problem is why is someone looking to get rid of you.

      One other point: my boss often dismisses my programming experience as not counting, like you did, but in many cases (like mine for example) we really have been working full or nearly full time for 4-5 years by the time we are twenty. I was doing full-time consulting and programming from my sophomore year in high-school on. Real work, real pay, real references, and real products brought to market. Under very high-stress no doubt.
  • by webword ( 82711 ) on Sunday December 30, 2001 @12:01PM (#2764750) Homepage
    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.
    • 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.

      Ouch, dude. I spent a year at a PC manufacturer in Somerset, NJ that was completely populated by Indians/Arabs and Chinese. No joke there were about a dozen whites in the building. I initially repaired PCs returned for warranty service, and then moved to the phones since I could speak English clearly. They provided us with sample PCs so we had something to work on when speaking with customers. I wallpapered my cube with faxed-in letters of praise from customers (something I strongly recommend).

      The manager was Indian, and consistently provided the Indian techs with perks denied the rest of us -- updated PCs, phones that don't track your usage, even running an analog line to provide a cluster of Indian techs with Internet access. When 95 was released, I had to steal RAM from an unused training PC nearby. I warned him that he was discriminating against a small group of employees based on their ethnic background, and he straightened out his act.

      A couple months later, someone called me for an interview I never asked for. I asked him to double my salary, and the rest is history. I've since tripled that doubling, so you can guess how well the first place paid.
  • Pfft (Score:5, Funny)

    by underpaidISPtech ( 409395 ) on Sunday December 30, 2001 @12:12PM (#2764787) Homepage
    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
  • Plow on. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by twitter ( 104583 ) on Sunday December 30, 2001 @12:13PM (#2764795) Homepage Journal
    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!

  • by SpinyNorman ( 33776 ) on Sunday December 30, 2001 @12:13PM (#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.
  • by truthsearch ( 249536 ) on Sunday December 30, 2001 @12:19PM (#2764814) Homepage Journal
    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.
  • by standards ( 461431 ) on Sunday December 30, 2001 @12:21PM (#2764822)
    I have a similar problem. I'm only 22, but I'm as smart as a whip. Perhaps even smarter.

    My boss, who is 41, isn't that smart. I mean he started in the industry doing COBOL. Come on, even I'm smarter than that.

    My colleagues are all older than me. They always talk about the old days, like C++ and VMS. They just like to worry what management likes to hear. Not me, I'm a PHP god, and I'm sure we can save millions if they'd let me.

    There is this one older guy that I work with who LOVES to use databases! I said "just put it all in XML"! Saves thousands of dollars just in database licensing fees! But he won, because the management likes older guys and that old database crap.

    I spoke my mind, and my boss shut me down. I said to him "what happened to free speech???". Then he demoted me to the mail room.

    They're all old guys down there too. They're concerned about delivering junk mail. I said "Let's just chuck it, no one reads it anyway". It could save thousnads a year, but they don't listen to younger people who are smarter then they are.

    My friend Timmy is in law school - he's helping me document all this so we can sue them and then I'll own my boss!
    • by schon ( 31600 )
      "I left home at 21, convinced that my father was the stupidest person in the world. When I returned 5 years later, I was amazed at how much he'd learned."

      -Mark Twain

      I think this is exactly what's happening with the submittor. As others have pointed out, his "experience" claims are surely an indication that he probably doesn't really know as much as he thinks he does.
  • If this is really discrimination, why are you asking Slashdot about it rather than your state's Department of Labor? New York State has a Department of Human Rights [] to deal specifically with discrimination.
  • The profession you are in is one which does not have rock solid job-security. They removed the cheif network architect at my work with no advance notice to him or anyone else. (He must have angered some higher-up person)

    But the network survived with only the remaining staff. You can bring in new admins, tell them your local topology, and have them be productive on the first day.

    If you want more job security, you have to get into a position where the company needs you as much as or more than you need them. A good programmer will find himself in this position easily.(no matter how well he documents his code- programmers will never be interchangeable)

  • How I handled this (Score:5, Interesting)

    by firewort ( 180062 ) on Sunday December 30, 2001 @12:31PM (#2764860)

    I went and scheduled a meeting with the manager, and then the second line manager (higher-up.) As a performance review.

    I said I simply wanted to get some feedback on how they thought I was doing and how I could continue to meet their expectations.

    I said I felt I was doing well at meeting my goals, but I wanted to make sure that I was doing all that I could, and wanted their opinions on my performance.

    The first job I ever did this at, it was wonderful. I heard better things about myself than I could have guessed. This was at a small company.

    The next time I did this, it was at a large multinational corporation. The manager brought my team leader into the meeting even though I hadn't wanted it. The team leader was a micromanager who changed my priorities daily, took away whatever I was working on and finished it himself, without giving feedback about what I was or wasn't doing, even when asked. So, he lit into a speech about how I managed to contribute no value to the team. (Despite other team members sending notes praising me to the manager. I was copied on those.)

    I was given a chance to respond, and I fell for it- I showed clearly how every point was an unfair assessment. I won the battle, but lost the war. I've not been fired, but I do have weekly meetings with my manager now.

    He gets good feedback via notes from my new team leader, and other members of the team. I tell him how I've met my deadlines, and what I'm working on next and when the deadline is for it. He nods and smiles and comes up with something esoteric to criticise, like, did I improve customer satisfaction this past week? To which I say, yes, I met my deadline and excelled at providing the customer with a better 'X'. ...

    So, be careful, learn from my experiences. However, it does look good to be proactive and seek out ways- just be careful to not get ambushed as I did, and in doing so, don't get sucked into winning the battle...
  • by mindstrm ( 20013 ) on Sunday December 30, 2001 @12:33PM (#2764868)
    Speaking strictly, the IT director won't tell you this to your face because it's not his job to do so. It's his job to deal with your boss (from the sounds of it). Period. And your bosses problem to deal with you.

    Now, what should happen is your boss would shield you from the director. If your boss thinks his boss is out of line, it's up to your boss to do something about it.

    If you were to go over your bosses head and complain somewhere over the Director's head, it may get your boss in shit.. because it's his job to sort this out.

    Now.. strangely enough, I was in basically this exact same position a few years ago, if you can believe it.

    The VP Tech (out of the blue) decided that I needed to be fired, and started basically blaming things on me, and to make it worse, he worked in our head office, not in the building I was in. Whenever I saw him in person, he was nice, joking, friendly. Whenever he was back in his office, he backstabbed.

    Just before he moved to this new office and started trying to get rid of me, we hired an IT Director, whom I reported directly to (clarification, in my case, it's the VP who's bad and the director who's my boss) Now.. this guy barely knew me. I was young (24) compared to everyone else involved.. and he walked right into his new job to find that the VP Tech was trying to axe me. What did he do? He came to me in person, said so-and-so has it in for you, and flatly stated that he thought such behavior was unprofessional and that he had no intention of letting me go. This was after working with me for about 3 or 4 days.
    Weeks later, at a meeting, with all senior management present, The VP brought up the topic of canning me again. My new boss stood up, said basically, and firmly, 'We are not letting him go, he stays. if you have a problem with what my department does, bring it up with me. It's not up to you to hire/fire my staff. That's why you hired me as the Director of IT'. This was in front of the CEO, etc. And that settled it. It never came up again.
  • Ageism and IT (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ellem ( 147712 ) <> on Sunday December 30, 2001 @12:36PM (#2764876) Homepage Journal
    Biggest problem I can see with "youngster's" at rhe helm is one of experience.

    Not technical experiencebut of human experience.

    The younger techs do not seem to grasp the idea that saving a Word File (et al) is not an innate ability that all humans have. Thusly, younger techs tend to be ineffective "trainers" and short on patience.

    Oddly I also find younger techs do not have the ability to "See The Screen" allowing them to talk someone through a set of commands or mouse clicks to "fix" their issue. Despite all of their excellent tech knowledge and boundless energy, young techs aren't always great people people.

    In the thinning IT world being able to talk to a 60 year old VP Assistant is more important than being able to script or build a BIND server.

    (I am sure the 45+ set is saying that about me and my 30ish set -- such is life)
  • by Bowie J. Poag ( 16898 ) on Sunday December 30, 2001 @12:39PM (#2764888) Homepage

    If you've approached your manager with the same pile of BS that you approached Slashdot:

    "I'm 19 years old with 5 years industry experience"

    You shouldn't be surprised that he's trying to get rid of you. That statement alone sort of underscores your ignorance. Incase you missed it, it implies that you've been working at a 6-to-5 job that actually _matters_ since the age of 14.

    Warezing != "industry experience".
    Upgrading AOL on your dad's computer != "industry experience".
    Having a personal webpage != "industry experience".

    Its like this, spudboy.."industry experience" means sleeping on the floor of your office overnight because you need to babysit half a dozen mission-critical AIX, Solaris and IRIX boxes following a complete power-failure and network outage, because if you dont, the entire department's workload might grind to a halt, and the company will lose $30,000 per minute until its fixed. Many people here have seen and dealt with that sort of thing. No offense, but I doubt you have seen anything similar during your "5 years of industry experience".

    Here's another way to look at it --- I've been coding since about the age of 4. Yes, 4. And no, i'm not kidding. (Hell, my parents still have one of my "Apple ][ Operators License" picture IDs in a photo album from when I was in 2nd grade..) Now, do you think I would put "I'm 27 years old and have 23 years industry experience" on my resume'?

    Nuff said.

  • I would recommend is go to work for a very small company. Big companies need large groups of people that all are content in their little role. Tiny companies need people who want to do everything. A desire to branch out and work in all kinds of areas can be irritating to the people around you in a large company. You end up stepping on toes and angering groups. That same quality could be your greatist asset in a small company where they expect people to wear multiple hats. I work for a startup now and it's a whole different world. People are excited when I offer to branch out and take on new responsabilities.

    Another thing to keep in mind is that I used to think *exactly* the same thing as you do. I'm young, they're old, they're jealous and thats why they don't like me. I was wrong!

    The problem was my bad attitude. I had a rotton attitude that stemmed from a feeling that I though I was younger and smarter and better than everyone else. It sounds like you have the same attitude. It could be the real problem.

    Don't get me wrong, you can run into people who are legitamitely jealous of your skills, I'm pretty sure I have. Most people won't be though. I've found that the most important thing for you to do is work hard, be helpful to your co-workers and get you assigned taks done. A good employee brings up the performance of everyone around them. An arogant employee can bring down the performance of everyone around them. Being dependible is also *HUGE*. A prima donna sysadmin that only does what they like, not what they are assigned isn't good for any company, especially a big one. Most people don't really care about your age but a superior attiude can piss off an entire devision of people. No single employee is worth ruining the morale of an entire group of people.

    Just work hard and be nice to everyone. Remember when you get pissed off that you are all on the same team and you are all going in the same direction. If you truely have the skill then you probably see horrible things about to happen and get emotional about them. Don't! It's business, it's not personal. You are all on the same team. You are all going in the same direction. Calmly explain your fears and then sit back and let the horrible thing happen. Then say I told you so. It sounds childish but unless you are the boss that's the way you have to do it. After a couple of those people won't think of you as a hot headed kid. They will fear your disapproval because it means the project is likely to fail. You can't get that from superior skills alone. Only time can build a reputation like that among your pears.

    Another thing to keep in mind is that in this job market it seems to me that you always get rewarded for your hard work but not unitl you switch jobs. There is a kind of *next job karma* in the world where whatever busting your ass you do in this job will be compensated in your next one. Remember to note your particularly impressive accomplishments in your resume. That's how the karma usually get's passed on.

  • by pdqlamb ( 10952 ) on Sunday December 30, 2001 @12:44PM (#2764901)
    Oh, what the heck. Here goes anyhow.

    Five years experience and you're 19? Like several others have said, no way. Unless, of course, you dropped out of junior high and started working full time, which I doubt. Ask your boss and HR people how they count years of experience, and restate yours to match their standards.

    Sue them? Well, count on paying a lawyer a few hundred bucks to ask him a few questions. You could save it to pay for your baby, but you're pissed, right? Then drop it. You're unlikely to make out like a bandit, and you're very likely to taint yourself (for suing your employer) so badly nobody will ever hire you except as a temp or consultant again.

    Confront the bastard. Well, you can. Most 19-year-olds don't have the maturity and self-control to pull this one off, but you may be the exception. If you do, figure out what your goal is and how you're going to get there ahead of time. Two more hints: First, you won't win if you threaten him, and probably won't if you try to convert the IT guy on the spot by jawing at him.

    Second, if you want to win a confrontation, you should ask him (and your immediate boss, too) how you can improve your performance. Tell him you have a kid on the way, and you're serious about trying to be the best employee he has, and has him how to do that. Ask him why he wants to get rid of you, and what you can do to improve so that he wants to keep you. If you don't get any response there, try the IT director's boss, one level up, with the same approach. Then listen, write down what he says, and get to work on those suggestions.

    You may want to become a "Master of the Universe," but you obviously are not in a position to get there by acting like one. (For one thing, masters of the universe don't bring their problems to ./ asking for advice.) Eat some humble pie, learn how you can improve, and you may get there in another 19 years.

    Are your grammar and dress in line with the rest of your company? The dot.bust has come, and you may be trying to get away with last year's mannerisms. Don't push it too hard. Khakis and no ties you can justify if you routinely crawl around behind machines or lug monitors around. Torn t-shirts and holes in your jeans may chafe a raw spot somewhere up the hierarchy. Keep that up only if you want to remind them you're a special case. The special case they may want to get rid of.

    Or quit. Just make sure you have another job lined up before you go. Be sure that if you take this route, you are going to leave. You can look for other work, and test the waters, on your lunch hour or before/after work. But you're not trying to get a raise, you want a job. If you get an offer, you're out of there.
  • Hey dude,
    I can understand that you are upset with what you perceive to be the current situation. However, take a step back and look at it from a critical point of view. Before changing to the IT field in 1996, my accomplishments included running a large food company as Operations Chief, and then co-owning a factory. Granted that the fields are different, but I believe that the past experience plus the current experience as a junior sysadmin and systems troubleshooter, allows me some weight in commenting. b.t.w. I am 37.
    First, I think it is great that you got the position. At your age that is a huge plus.You must have accomplished a lot for them to even consider you.
    Second, as a former boss I'm aware of the discrimination laws and you really do not have a case. You are in the position already so they didn't discriminate in hiring practices. Nor are you being actively acted against because of your age.
    K- here are the comments that might be helpful:
    At 37, it is refreshing to work with younger and older people. We all have something to offer. Our IT team works with the Gov't and a few of them are in the early 20's. We value their input and their opinions. Age is not considered
    Therefore, some factors must have been either discovered, i.e. let's say about your personality and ability to be a team player; or created, i.e. did you act in an immature manner or criticize others for mistakes.
    How well do you take criticism?
    Your boss might like you personally but perhaps some items have come to his attention. Your post sounds very defensive, you might be showing this at work and treating your coworkers with suspicion and paranoia.
    How do you dress? How well do you speak and communicate with others? Being a sysadmin is more than pounding the keyboard. How is your command of the English language? As a sysadmin you are setting examples and will be held to a higher standard.
    Has your company experienced growth? Perhaps newer technologies and economic advances within the company demand someone with either a different skillset or more business savvy.
    Have you been watching the bottom line? Keeping an eye on ROI? Submitting reports on time? Are you a team player? How well do you integrate the ideas of others? Your post sounds like its a "me against them" relationship. You arent running the place alone there are many others in IT who are the backbone. Do you value them and give them your time? How do you spend your time at work? You might work fast but what do you do in the downtime? Do you pick up the slack and pitch in or do you stay aloof, maybe even playing games.
    Have you done something outlandish that might be perceived as immature? Do you demonstrate mood swings? At your age, mood swings would be seen different than if they were demonstarted in an older employee.
    Do you drink? take drugs? talk about drinking and drugs? [ no offense meant, its just that everywhere drugs are not cool- the Govt has just denied school funds from 43,000 college kids because of past drug history]
    Do you contribute to weekly or monthly meetings? Have you saved the company money or submitted reports explaining how you saved money or accomplished a given set of tasks?
    Have you brought a weapon to work? You might be showing off that new knife or your skills with nunchakus-- your boss and coworkers might feel different. Do you joke about violent actions?
    Do you talk excessively about religion? politics? ethnic groups? Are you ON TIME at work? Do you leave early or right at the stroke of the clock?
    Do you work hard? Remember that your boss is not your friend. That kind of relationship is separate from his/her being a boss. Over time the boss might become your friend, but a good boss keeps business separate.
    After work, with whom do you associate? Have you been caught cracking? Using the company telephones or machines in a personal manner? What is the yearly gross of the company? Do you speak of your coworkers in a critical manner? Do you follow company policy? How did you react when you f*cked something up? We all have so don't be shy.
    Discipline and how we react to it is a strong indicator of business and personal maturity.
    Finally, just take all of this into consideration and think from an objective point of view. You could approach your boss at a lull in the work day and suggest a meeting with him/her to discuss your work record and performance. Explain that you want to improve and are seeking constructive criticism.
  • by Preposterous Coward ( 211739 ) on Sunday December 30, 2001 @12:52PM (#2764920)
    Put aside your pride (and concerns about feeding your family) for a moment and try to take an objective look at the situation, the players, and what might be going on behind the scenes. Based on your description, it sounds like there's something very strange happening here.

    You say your boss likes you, but your boss also tells you that the IT director wants to get rid of you? That's weird -- the IT director is going to get rid of a valuable employee over his immediate boss's objections? What could be causing that? Maybe your boss is not being completely honest with you (could it be that he wants to get rid of you and shift the blame to someone else so he can save himself some guilt when it comes time to fire you?). I'm not saying that's the case, since I don't know the circumstances, but I think you need to consider what may really be happening vs. what people are telling you.

    You also say "everywhere I soon as they learn my age they automatically hate me." That's really odd. I can understand some level of jealousy, and even one or two companies that are full of bozos who dislike young whippersnappers like you, but if you are finding this in a variety of different work environments then there may be something else going on. If you are really performing and able to work with people, most companies wouldn't care about your age. Since you are basically saying that your age is ALWAYS a problem, I think you have to ask whether your age -- or more precisely your attitude, level of maturity, or other things that come with your age -- REALLY IS a problem. (I don't say this to be cruel; I was also a precocious kid, was managing six people by age 23, etc; this is my perspective as a now-30-something who knows he made plenty of stupid mistakes in his youth.)

    Two suggestions. First, start by making a really candid assessment of the situation, starting with your own behavior. What could you have been doing that would lose you points with your boss, your boss's boss, your coworkers, or other people in the company instead of winning points? Could it be that you make them feel dumb? (There's sometimes a fine line between helping people out and being an obnoxious know-it-all.) Could it be that you don't behave in a "professional" manner? Could you be really full of yourself? (There's a big difference between telling people your age and flaunting it.) Could it be that you actually made decisions, or advocate positions, that are bad for the company? (In my experience, this is a common one among young people who are very smart but lack business wisdom -- they may get all up in arms because they're convinced they have the Right Answer about some technical issue, but they fail to consider the larger business concerns.)

    Second, take pre-emptive action. If you think you might get fired, you need to be ready with an alternative. Polish up your resume, get in touch with old contacts who might know where you could find a new position (referrals are always much better than answering random want ads or Monster postings), etc. But be careful not to neglect your responsibilities in the meantime -- you want to be a model employee. And DO NOT talk about this with anyone other than your immediate boss! Being a chatterbox will only reinforce any image of you as immature.

    Personally I wouldn't suggest legal recourse, because I doubt you'll really get anywhere with it. There's not a whole lot of precedent I'm aware of (IANAL, of course) for "reverse" age discrimination, and furthermore, actually proving that's what led to your firing (should it come to that) might be really difficult. It certainly won't exactly be something you'll want to brag about to your next employer.

    Good luck.

  • Ask Slashdot Week (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Flavio ( 12072 ) on Sunday December 30, 2001 @12:55PM (#2764926)
    It seems to me like this is the "Hi, I'm 19-24, never went to college, am a kick ass programmer with TONS of experience but am stuck professionally! HELP!!!!" week.

    I don't intend to offend you, but you must know some things:

    1. Face it: college is IMPORTANT. Go study now while you still can. You may argue that you're married with kids now, but you're still young -- don't wait until you're 30 to say "I should've gone to college back when I was 20 and could".

    2. Programming is cool, but it's not everything that matters. Once you learn calculus, statistics and logic you'll have better ways to solve problems. You'll see that there are solutions other than brute force.

    3. Programming can be extremely easy next to mathematics. It's often much simpler to devise something that "just works" rather than developing it carefully and proving why it's the best solution.

    4. Cutting and pasting perl/php for 5 years doesn't count as real work. Nor does assembling computers/networks. Just installing and updating software doesn't count as professional system administration.

    5. The computer stuff you did in high school doesn't count as real world experience.

    6. Whether you like it or not, most companies will NEVER consider you and most professionals won't respect you if you don't have a degree. You will keep losing arguments even though you're right.

    7. You'll never know how much you lack unless you go to college.

    In short, you may be stuck professionally for a reason other than age discrimination. Perhaps being a kick ass programmer isn't all that matters.
    • by Kagato ( 116051 )
      College doesn't make you good in the IT field. I've worked for large companies all my professional career. I've interviewed dozens of college grads for IT. Just because they have a 3.9 in CompSci doesn't mean they have what it takes to be a great designer/programmer/analyst. College or not it comes down to this. You either have "it" or you don't have "it".

      Too many people come out of college with no idea about the low level computer operation. 75% may know how to use vi and write a "hello world" in ADA, but only 25% could tell me what /etc/services does. If I'm going to hire a programmer they better know what's going on under the hood of the OS.

      For my money I look for people who are creative. Not someone who can do book work well. And from what I've found the ones who are like this and have a CS didn't learn the skills from a class, they learned it on their own.

      I ask questions like:

      Have you ever written a program on your own outside of class?

      Have you ever installed Linux or similar Unix on your computer?

      And the final test would be to give them a lanuage they didn't know. Perl, C, Awk, something like that. Give them five pages of the manual/man page and ask them to write a hello world program. If they can't figure out how to write the program header and print statement they shouldn't be a programmer nor sysadmin.

      I would treat someone with professional training like a vendor Unix class with the same respect as a person with a four years of college.

      This is not to say someone who doesn't have "it" and a 3.9 can't work out at the company. I just think at that point they make a better Business Analysis or Jr. Project Manager at that point. But at the same time I've seen grads with liberal arts degrees work out just as well in those positions.

      My personal opinion is college is overrated. A good grade may reveal a good work ethic and organizational skills, but nothing more. I myself don't have college, command a 6 figure salary and have worked for some of the largest companies in the US.
      • by Flavio ( 12072 )
        You have a good point, but I don't believe college is overrated.

        I agree with you that college won't turn a "commoner" into a computer wizard and you as an employer are usually looking for the wizard types. The IT market usually looks for technical skills that are usually NOT taught in college. That's because one can learn those on his own. It's much more difficult to learn math on your own than it is with a teacher and that's why colleges may choose to teach math.

        College may be overrated in the sense tons of college graduates (the ones who haven't got "it") go out unprepared into the real world. But that doesn't mean we should all ditch college! The unprepared ones can pick up the technical stuff they lack as they work in the real world. They'll still retain the theory they learnt, which will eventually help them in the future. Of course they still won't have "it", but that's no surprise. Most people (CS graduates or not) don't.

        We'd both rather have the gifted employee who doesn't need college because he's brilliant. However, I'd rather have the brilliant type who went to college than the brilliant type who didn't. College gives you background which allows you to make better decisions because you're informed. No matter how much you've got "it", you won't be able to figure out the last 100 years of computer science without learning it from books. I believe college is the best place to do your learning.

        I agree with you that having "it" is more important than anything else. That's what makes a good CS professional. What I wrote in the original post is advice to the Ask Slashdot guy. Not everybody out there agrees with you and me, and I believe he'll be much more stable with a degree.

        [In short: he may be in some trouble if gets fired and he doesn't have a degree. That's why I recommend him to get one while he can. I wish we could all open our little software shops and code away without ever needing to prove ourselves with certificates of learning, but most of us can't.]
    • Drop the attitude. Whatever path you have taken in life isn't the only 'good' path. There are plenty of other ways to reach your goals without doing exactly what you have done (sounds like you went to college, got your expensive piece of paper, and now you resent people who are doing as well as you w/o a formal education).

      Look, you made a list of stuff that you didn't do, so it must be wrong. You were never a PC tech? Good, it doesn't count as 'real work'. Tell that to the technicians I work with, who are smart, capable people who help users and support their families through that work.

      Programming is easy next to math? What does this have to do with the question? What does this have to do with anything? Programming is easy compared to brain surgery, too.. why didn't you go point that out too? Oh, you're not a brain surgeon, right.

      Programming is not a 'brute force' solution, and math often has nothing to do with solving a programming problem.

      6. Whether you like it or not, most companies will NEVER consider you and most professionals won't respect you if you don't have a degree. You will keep losing arguments even though you're right.

      Just plain wrong. Maybe YOUR company won't consider you if you don't have a BS. There are plenty of companies who will give you a chance, however. A college degree is better of course, but you're really wrong about needing one. As you move along in your career a degree matters less and less however. If you are 30 and have proven yourself with a bunch of good years of experience behind you, 95% of 'professionals' will actually respect you, whether or not you got that piece of paper 10 years ago.

      BTW, who are these professionals you speak of, who won't respect you if you don't have a degree? Do they ask? Personally, when I meet a new business contact, college usually doesn't come up in conversation. And I've never had the experience of meeting a new client, only to have them disrespect me because I didn't finish college.
      • by Flavio ( 12072 ) on Sunday December 30, 2001 @03:52PM (#2765453)
        Maybe YOUR company won't consider you if you don't have a BS. There are plenty of companies who will give you a chance, however.

        With lower salaries, unless you can really prove yourself. I doubt the Ask Slashdot guy will be able to do that since he's so young.

        A college degree is better of course, but you're really wrong about needing one.

        I wouldn't like to be out of work, 20 years old, with 5 years of questionable industry experience and WITHOUT a college degree.

        You're just saying that because of the following:

        As you move along in your career a degree matters less and less however. If you are 30 and have proven yourself with a bunch of good years of experience behind you, 95% of 'professionals' will actually respect you, whether or not you got that piece of paper 10 years ago.

        You're correct that as you prove yourself the degree becomes less important. Until you've done that, however, you may live through some unpleasant times. If I were 20 years old and in his place, I'd try to go to school. It's much more pleasant than going against the stablished order and gives you better odds.

  • Since I don't know you I hope you won't take this's just something to consider.

    I started working in IT full time when I was 16 (I graduated from HS early). I felt I was being discriminated against because of my age a lot over the years, and I know many times I was right. Looking back however I realize I wasn't as experienced or mature as I thought, and while I think I was exceptionally good at my job, that lack of maturity and experience kept me from being promoted as I felt I deserved.

    One thing I learned is that people will often tell you something like "the boss just doesn't like you because of xxxx" when really they don't want to tell you the truth, which is "you are too immature to work here". A few of my younger friends over the years got fired because they were simply too immature, but that's not what they were told. People don't want to hurt your feelings, so they sometimes tell you something that will hurt less, or is easier to say.

    Ok, having said that...even if it is discrimination, all you can do is try to be mature about it. If they are going to treat you lousy, find another place to work. In my experience (I'm 29 now) some people can deal with a young person who is technically bright better than others. You will enjoy working with those people the most.
  • 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.

    However, I think there's story behind the story, at least I've reason to believe that the IT director might not want to get rid of you because of your age.

    It might be your own attitude and the degree of confidence they've on you. You might have shown your attitude to others because you think they were not as young and as smart as you. Given all these, management do not have confidence giving you anything important. (It happened to my first job, at the time I thought I were very smart and in fact I were, but that became a blindspot for me - well, many people has that problem in their first job) Most people learnt to work with people soon after, but few would become arrogant bastards as we know them. :)

    Second, your direct boss might have lied to you. Your IT Director might not want to get rid of you - all he cares is whether someone could give value to the company. The jealousy might be coming from no other but your direct boss. Who is most hurted if you got management attention and promoted? Guess what, not the IT Director, but your boss.(I've the experience in my current %$@# job. It's always the case the one you most trusted is the one who backstabbing you.)

    Therefore, I feel like hearing my own story when hearing yours. Now you must bear in mind 1) if you think you are young and smart, it's unavoidable you *must* work with someone who are old and dumb. Be nice to them. :) 2) Your direct boss is always %#$@$head, you'd understand when you are somebody's boss.
  • Get out! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mlknowle ( 175506 ) on Sunday December 30, 2001 @01:09PM (#2764975) Homepage Journal
    Discrimination like this will always happen, no matter what century; in fact, I think it might be better to call it 'jelousy' than 'discrimination.'

    In any case, your best choice is to get out now. Look at the two possible outcomes:

    1. He succeeds: you get fired. Then you have to explain the situation to other employers, who might just think you are making up a story to justify termination.

    2. You prevent him from dumping you through legal means. Well, congradulations; now you have a guy who hates you for the rest of your life, and will do every little thing he can to sabatoge you. Sounds like a great place to work!
  • by Anml4ixoye ( 264762 ) on Sunday December 30, 2001 @01:31PM (#2765032) Homepage
    First, the situation you are in sucks. Some of the posters are correct that you really should determine if you want to stay there under the supervision of someone who doesn't want you there.

    And as much as it sucks, federally there is nothing you can do. The EEO laws state that age discrimination applies to 40 and above. The best thing you can do at this point is check your state laws to see if there is something that can be done.

    A third option you might have is to get a hold of your representatives in the house and senate. While there may be nothing that could be done to help you, you might be able to get laws past that could help others.

    But more than likely, if they want you gone, they will find some way to do it that is legal. A director isn't a director because he/she fell into it, they are a director because they have survived, and they know what it takes to make it through.

    Good luck. Sounds like you are going to need it.

  • by zulux ( 112259 ) on Sunday December 30, 2001 @01:33PM (#2765039) Homepage Journal
    Start your own consulting business by yourself.... The only problem for me, is when my boss sexualy herasses me whenever I'm alone with a fast internet conection....
  • by RJ277 ( 546954 ) on Sunday December 30, 2001 @01:41PM (#2765063)
    First off I apologize for my grammer. Secondly I have 5 years real world experince and I am not talking about running some pethetic highschool network.

    I was home schooled and graduated at 15. I got my first real full time Job at Best Buy Inc as A PC Tech, I worked there for 2 years. Then I worked at a Game Development company for 1.5 years. I then worked at another Software Developemnt company for .5 years and have worked at my currecnt job for 1 year. That is 5 years of real world experience.

    Third, I have my 6 month review that says other wise. I got almost all good remarks, true I got the usuall, late a few times, everyone gets that, but there is always room to improve IMHO, and I am not claiming to be anything I am not.

    I dont have a college degree but have started back to school to pursue my CS degree. I do have my MCSE, RHCE and am currently pursing some Cisco certification, but like others have said nothing is as good as a college degree except a college degree and I 100% agree with that.

    Lastly and I stress this fact would all the trolls and flamers that have no sound advice, just not say anything at all ? That would be nice.

    Oh, and one last thing, I am not one to sue for millions of dollars I am simply talking if they fire me because of my age I would simply want enough severance to take care of my family.

    Anyway thanks to everyone for some good advice.
  • by juno ( 70153 ) on Sunday December 30, 2001 @05:33PM (#2765726) Homepage
    There have been numerous comments made about how it isn't correct to count 5 years of work experience between ages 14-19 as "5 years of industry experience". I don't disagree with this at all-- work done in high school, especially part time and for internships, is not equivalent to coming in every day for 8+ hours for 5 years, as an adult.

    So, bearing that in mind, how are we supposed to talk about experience? I'm 20 and got my first job at 15, doing data entry and document layout for a startup, and had done some volunteer tech support for my high school before then. Since then I've done various (corporate and academic) sysadmin and programming work, and some work as a data analyst. I think all of this counts in some way as experience in the field-- even if it isn't equivalent to an adult's experience, neither am I talking about mowing lawns, flipping burgers, or fixing my grandparents' PC. This was real work for real companies, with problem solving, customer interaction, and exposure to office politics.

    So far, when people ask me how many years of experience I have, I tend to say that "I've been working in IT since I was 15" (demonstrably true), rather than "I have 5 years of experience" (shaky ground). My resume makes it clear that much of this work was part time while attending school. Is that acceptable?

    Please understand that I'm not trying to pull a "But, but, I'm 20 years old and even though I'm /so/ much smarter than everyone else my old fogey managers don't listen to me!" kind of thing. I've had the good fortune to work for and around some stunningly bright people (enough to know when I'm sometimes outgunned), and in some ways have learned more about what I /don't/ know that what I do. But I have worked hard and made a real effort to build up experience that will make me an attractive candidate for employment when I graduate next term. Many of my classmates don't have as much work experience as I do any way you look at it, and in this tight economy I obviously want to get that across, as well as the general notion that while I'm not exactly a seasoned professional, I have a reasonable understanding of my strengths and weaknesses in the workplace, at least enough not to make a complete ass of myself politically (and technically).

    I find it offensive when people discount my experience as worthless out of hand, probably like someone with 30 years in the industry gets annoyed when a 25 year old tries to play games of one-upmanship.

    How can I talk about what I view as valuable time and experience in the workplace without coming off as a cocky know-it-all?
  • Reverse Situation (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Skyshadow ( 508 ) on Sunday December 30, 2001 @09:00PM (#2766195) Homepage
    Hey, it could be worse -- my company's busily removing all of the (attentive) parents. You'll get older, but they're stuck.

    The excuse being used is that the people who occassionally see their kids aren't working the same number of hours as we 24-year old single folks. This is being enforced by our VP, who has two kids but typically spends 80+ hours at work a week (no problem with priotiries there, eh?).

    Hell, just last week the person in the cube next to me got a talking-to because she "left early" (went to see her son's orchestra concert -- at 7 PM). My veep told 'er if she does it again she'll be "in a bad position for future layoffs".

    Of course, if you read my past comments about my company, this shouldn't be too shocking. I can't wait for the economy to recover so I can escape that shithole.

  • Pre-Madonnas (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nikpieX ( 518952 ) on Sunday December 30, 2001 @11:10PM (#2766389)
    The problem with a lot teenagers and some twenty year olds is their ego. From the post, I can tell that the poster thinks quite highly of his/herself. One could have twenty years of experience and do as well as someone who is a beginner in the field. Years don't define the quality of one's knowledge, nor do paper certifications.
    So to say one is qualified for a job merely based on years of experience (how much "experience" one gets out of those years is quite variable), and some multiple choice tests is rather ignorant. The poster gives the impression that he/she is a big-head who thinks he/she is better than those who have their college degree (and don't bloat their knowledge-level), but truly is on the level of someone who just got out of high school and has no understanding of what a decent IT job requires.
  • How do they know? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Hard_Code ( 49548 ) on Sunday December 30, 2001 @11:24PM (#2766418) do they know you're 19? It's not like it's really any of their business. What would they really do if you told them you were, say, 22? Call your mother for verification? There is no law that says that you have to give them your real age (or name, or whatever). It isn't a government job is it? (in which case there *may* be laws). It's really none of their damn business how old you are and AFAIK you are not obligated give this sort of information.
  • Or perhaps ... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by The AtomicPunk ( 450829 ) on Monday December 31, 2001 @12:32AM (#2766540)
    a) You're not as good as you think you are (who says your previous employers were worth a damn?)

    b) At your age, you don't realize that many of the things you think are "stupid reasons" aren't.

    c) You could just be an immature brat that they hate working with.

    Nothing personal, and I'm not over 30 - but everything isn't some conspiracy based on discrimination. I've worked with enough dipshits of ALL ages ...
  • by sup4hleet ( 444456 ) on Monday December 31, 2001 @01:40AM (#2766638) Homepage
    with any superiors because even if you are right you will lose. Getting into a fight with your boss is like showing up with a knife at a gun fight (that's a quote from some famous movie, I don't remember which, flame me). They can always fire on the spot with out cause. Most states are "Employment at will" which means the don't have to give you a reason, and you can bet that if they did it wouldn't be an illegal one. Also in this economy if you piss off the director bad enough you manager will save his own ass and congradulate him on his descision. My advice, work your frickin butt off if you aren't already. Be the goto guy for ass much stuff as you reasonably can be. Talk to the director and ask him what you need to do to make him happy and if he dislikes you, what you did to deserve it. Make ammends as best you can even if director seems completely wrong. Unfortunatley your daughter may be depending on your ass kissing abilities. And with five years experience, you should know that ass kissing is a part of every profession (yes even the CEO has to kiss the stock-holders collective ass).

Competence, like truth, beauty, and contact lenses, is in the eye of the beholder. -- Dr. Laurence J. Peter