April 12, 2022

Age Discrimination, Retaliation & What Were You Thinking?

There are some interviewing questions that most of us presume everyone knows you are not supposed to ask, like “Are you pregnant?” I think (or thought before I read this headline) that another was, “How old are you?”  But not so for one recruiting firm!

The firm landed itself in hot water when it asked applicants how old they were. One applicant declined to answer the question and suggested the question was unlawful.  That said, the firm failed to hire the candidate, despite the fact that it had reportedly already told him he would be hired.

Damages? It was not just about the money, as is often the case. This employer also agreed to:

  •  create of a robust anti-discrimination policy
  • provide employees and applicants with mechanisms to complain about discrimination;
  • provide mandatory training for its employees and recruiters about federal anti-discrimination law
  • report to the EEOC any internal complaints of discrimination or retaliation it receives for the next two years
  • make a $15,000 charitable contribution to enhance job opportunities for people in the protected age group.

Double check.  If you use an employment application and have not looked at it lately, do so.  Does it ask for date of birth? Does it ask for graduation date?  If so, you may want to (1) consider why; (2) what business purpose does that serve; (3) talk to your company’s employment counsel; and (4) probably delete the question.

Want some other practical tips? Join FiveL Company’s May 25th webcast, “We’re Not Getting Any Younger: Age Discrimination in the Workplace.” $25 pp, pre-approved by HRCI and SHRM for 1.25 credits.