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Age Discrimination in Job Search and the Workplace

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Age Discrimination in Job Search and the Workplace

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Have you experienced age discrimination? Laurie McCann is a Senior Attorney with AARP Foundation Litigation where her principal responsibilities include litigation and amicus curiae (impartial advisor) participation for AARP on a broad range of age discrimination and other employment issues.

 

Ask AARP Expert Laurie your questions about age discrimination, and share your experience.

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AARP Expert

eo3473, at AARP we agree, which is why in testimony before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) last year, we urged the agency to strengthen their regulations concerning what can be asked in job interviews and on job applications to provide greater protection against age discrimination in hiring.

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Contributor

Very much so in searching for a job.
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AARP Expert

d230493v, yes, unfortunately age discrimination in hiring is quite prevalent and is probably the most underreported form of age discrimination. AARP Foundation Litigation is focusing on age discrimination in hiring in our litigation and amicus curiae work.  More needs to be done and we have encouraged the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to strengthen its regulations addressing hiring discrimination and to do more litigation of its own to challenge age discrimination in hiring. The EEOC recently settled a hiring case against Texas Roadhouse which hopefully will bring more awareness to the subject of age discrimination in hiring and deter other employers from discriminating against older workers in the application process.

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Honored Social Butterfly


@lmccann58 wrote:

. . . . AARP Foundation Litigation is focusing on age discrimination in hiring in our litigation and amicus curiae work.  More needs to be done and we have encouraged the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to strengthen its regulations addressing hiring discrimination and to do more litigation of its own to challenge age discrimination in hiring. The EEOC recently settled a hiring case against Texas Roadhouse which hopefully will bring more awareness to the subject of age discrimination in hiring and deter other employers from discriminating against older workers in the application process.


The word "settled" should be emphasized here.  This case had been going on for many years - the government has unlimited resources - a company does not.

 

It was my understanding of the case that it was more about the attractiveness of the candidates than actual age, although that could mean, they didn't like grayish  hair.

 

Just wondering if there might be a case against Hooters since their business philosophy seems similar for their "up front staff".  Whoops !  There was already a case - but it was based on sex discrimination.  Guess it time to look at them for age discrimination too.  They also "settled" - has anything changed?!?!?!?!?  No, because as part of the settlement, they got to keep their business model - guess you would call it their signature "up front" employees.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It's Always Something . . . . Roseanna Roseannadanna
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AARP Expert

GailL1, thanks for weighing in.  My understanding of the Texas Roadhouse case was that it was about age.

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Periodic Contributor

Back in 2010, at the age of 52, I was hired by this towing company to work their light service side. Within weeks I was their top seller on batteries. The owner was not happy with his other employees who could not match my sales and been there longer then me!

A year after my hiring he asked me to train new hires with no incentive of more pay!

I looked at it as an opportunity to help the company but I also forwarn them that friends of friends doesn’t always work!

Without my ok as far as releasing them on their own, the company allowed the new employees to go to work. Within weeks they were either fired or quit! I informed them they were not ready when they released them! The owner actually contacted me on one and said federal authorities were involved in a money fraud scheme and I never heard anything more!

With these people not working out, being I was accused of being jeolous, the pressure was on me now!

I contracted MRSA as an outpatient at a local hospital and was out for three weeks with no pay! I asked the owner for an advance and he said no! I had to pawn things to survive and get my meds to recover!

When I came back things were not the same! People were not showing up for work and I had been very dependable! The owner was pushing these younger people to sell batteries but failed to realize they were just showing up for a paycheck! Sales went down in the county I worked out of while I was out and that is what the owner wanted to happen so he could get out of light service for AAA. My call volume dropped as the dispatcher at the shop would send the calls to the unproductive employees knowing they couldn’t sell batteries and my paychecks dropped. Now I was a complainer even though I was his most profitable employee on light service. Most of the light service drivers were in their young 20s. AAA contacted me one Sunday with the dispatcher at my shop being off and told me they give me all the calls I wanted. I had 15 that day! That Monday they dropped when the dispatcher signed on! Finally I was fired for questioning things! The owner wanted me to quit because no one else could do what I did!

He wanted out of the contract with AAA and even informed me younger people worked better then older people! If that was the case then why was I their top driver?

I would be rehired over a year later as sales had dropped in another county he contracted.

This was an ongoing deception tactic the owner did with AAA to honor the contract.

He brought the worst driver and sale  person over to the other county after giving up Montgomery County just to honor the contract. When I worked, sales were up! When he worked, sales were down!

I couldn’t understand why he kept this person on board as in every meeting we had it was always the same complaint about him! He had been hired two months after me in 2010!

They made excuses for him not working his shift sometimes and had me cover after I had already worked my shift! Then he wrecked his truck and it was his fault and the policy is if your vehicle is out of service then you have no vehicle until it is fixed. I had to share my truck with him and sales went down in the other county even more! It was suppose to be two weeks but it expanded to four months! One lie after another and then I had an accident and the truck was totaled! Dash cam showed it was not my fault but the owner held it against me and never replaced the truck! My position was downsized and that is really when the age discrimination took hold!

 

 

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AARP Expert

chas9770, I was very sorry to read about your experience.  Unfortunately, because this happened some time ago, you would not be able to file a charge of age discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency that enforces the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The ADEA prohibits employers with 20 or more employees from taking age into consideration when making employment decisions - virtually all employment decisions.  While I hope you don't encounter age discrimination again in your career, if you do, keep in mind that charges of discrimination must be filed within 180 -300 days of the alleged discriminatory act.  Again, I am sorry you had to go through what you did and I wish you success going forward.

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Contributor

I'm dealing with significant age discrimination in my current workplace.  When  my mentor was promoted to a job that both she and I applied for, she got the job and a much younger colleague responded, "Wow, is that age discrimination?"  My company is big on diversity, they have groups for every type of person or personalty, except older workers.  I want to start a "diverse" group of older workers and I think I'll call it Experienced Professionals.  Any Advice?

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AARP Expert

KevinC494757, if your employer took age into account when deciding whom to promote, then yes, that is age discrimination. Unfortunately, your employer is not alone in ignoring age in its diversity programs. An AARP study revealed that only 8 % of employers that have a diversity and inclusion training or program include an age component. I like your idea of starting an employee resource group to raise awareness and share concerns and advice about the impact of age in the workplace.  Hopefully, you'll get the attention of your human resource department and some positive change will come out of it. Good luck!

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Contributor

I have recently sold a small business and am searching for employment. I am a 54 year old female and sent a resume for a position in healthcare; I sent a one page resume instead of three page resume with last two employers with description/skills and the other 5 employers were listed below without descriptions. I removed the dates of employment as well as the year of my college graduation. I added a Career Summary instead of Objective, and it looked updated. I received a call from the company recruiter the next day (for a position that I did not apply for but was a better match) who said that he was very impressed with my background, and we talked for some time. He requested that I add dates to my employment and add more detail because this is required by the hiring managers. He was very positive and we talked three times within two days. I sent my lengthy resume with dates and two hours later, I received an email that stated, I was not being considered. It's hard to believe that it was not age discrimination. I have only begun my search; however, I'm feeling that the age issue will be a struggle.

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Conversationalist

If the company you are working for IS requiring you to put down some dates WITH the year and they want you to put down the year you graduated from school, then they are certianly in the wrong.  They know it's against the law to make you say what year you graduated from.  At Mercy, we would never pull any stunt like that.  

Seniors are just antique people rich with history.
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Conversationalist

Well, Mercy sounds smarter than a shister corp.  They will lose if any case goes to court and that gives them a strike with the labor board. That is very stupid. If the labor board thinks your company is apt to do wong doing you can lose cases without even going to court. That is what you need to prevent.

 

It they require you to put thant information in a job application, I don't applay and report them to Equal Opportunity. They never did anything about any of those companies since I saw the form again after a few years and it had not changed.

 

I was very well informed about this when I was a dept head in a Teamster company.  I won 10 out of 10 cases against the shop steward.  I knew what won and what lost in courts and made sure I was extra fair. I made sure the closing notes contanied the persidance for my action.  I even got to test workers for the foreman position.  It met all the guidelines for an acceptable test then some.  I needed that because we were opening up another distillary almost a mile by bike.  The old timers had the seniorirty so they all picked the new more simple to operate stillhouse.  The old stillhouse was very confusing and dangerous.  The test was made of possible dellemas a foreman could face. Most were real cases.  Half came from the foremen. They pushed the test through. 

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Newbie

Everytime I go online to a job search site to fill out a job application they ask me what year I graduated from High School and my year is not an option! Lately I've been getting calls from so called Employment agencies they ask me the same question, get the answer and then HANG UP!

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Regular Contributor

JanD8627: REPORT THEM TO EEOC!
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Conversationalist

@JanD8627, I do not fill out job applications that ask illegal questions.  I do report them.  I lie over the phone.  If they try to take me to court over lying they will lose and I think I will get a settlement.  Just making trouble and making them pay for it all is good enough for me. 

 

If they get a bad reputation with the labor board that will hurt them down the road.

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AARP Expert

MarinaM920404, wow, your experience mirrors exactly what research shows.  There have been several studies where resumes - identical except for the fact that dates of graduation show that one applicant is older than the other - and the "younger" resume gets a positive response far more often than the "older" resume. Both this body of research and your own experience demonstrate how much work needs to be done in this year.  Good luck as you go forward with your job search - it sounds like you are very qualified and with persistence you will have success.  The comment from the recruiter about hiring managers requiring dates is troubling and we at AARP will be continuing our advocacy to challenge such practices.

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Hello. I live in Tennessee and get calls from "employment" recruiters. They ask a brief survey And when they ask when I graduated high school and when I tell them 1972 they hang up. Is this discrimination? 

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Contributor

Employers can't ask your age, but certainly can do the math.  I graduated in 1973.

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AARP Expert

GemmaA , you're right about that.  That's why at AARP we recommend that you eliminate graduation dates from your resumes.  However, we are very aware that many online applications require graduation dates and that you cannot submit your application without supplying a graduation date.  We are following this issue closely and have challenged maximum years of experience requirements in our litigation work.  We have also urged the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to strengthen their regulations concerning hiring discrimination and to more vigorously challenge practices and policies that have the effect of screening out older workers.

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Super Contributor

Solved mine by being truthful.  I updated my resume to show my age. My experience, level of knowledge, and record, are untouchable.  Calls and contacts went to near zero BUT those that come are high quality.

Think about it.  It takes too long to change anything governmentally.  I made a solid course correction that worked for me. It ain't for everybody BUT . . .   .

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Contributor

That's interesting!  It reminded me of a similar learned experience, albeit in a different arena.  I had to develop a speedy 'Plan B' to save our new house when I got thrown under the bus and lost a contract job (due to an FTE I nicknamed 'Miss Blond Ambition' ), and became an AirBnB host.  Thankfully, we had a large 5th wheel to live in that suited this purpose, and thus my husband and I  became 'Super Hosts' with a jam packed booking calendar.  Getting to the similarity....

We honed our house rules over time, and began to hone that list in just such a way that we ran off the kinds of guests we definitely didn't want in our house, while keeping exactly the kind we did.  Every now and then, I'll get someone who fires back at us:  'What?  I'm not doing those f'ing rules, are you F'ing nuts?  I'll do whatever I D@mn well please where I rent, and if you think I'm bad, my husband wouldn't tolerate that crap for nothing!!!"   And I sit back and chuckle, and turn to my husband and say, "It's working beautifully!".  lol.  Life is better.  We get exactly the guests we want.  End of story.  

Thank you for helping me to realize that the same logic can work in this arena as well. 😉 

 

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Conversationalist

I am glad that worked for you. Most HR tosses older folk.  That is why we have this blog.  I love to hear when one of us gets a job. Some people spend years looking with out a nibble. 

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Retired Moderator

Hello, @StephenR946174.

 

If a recruiter is screening applicants based on age, that is age discrimination and the practice violates the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and possibly state law. The ADEA provides that it is “unlawful for an employment agency to fail or refuse to refer for employment, or otherwise to discriminate against, any individual because of such individual’s age, or to classify or refer for employment any individual on the basis of such individual’s age.” While high school graduation date is not the legal equivalent of age, if the recruiter is assuming a correlation between your graduation date and your age and screening you out based on that assumed correlation, that too is age discrimination. If you know the identity of the recruiter and want to file a charge of age discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency charged with enforcing the ADEA, go to https://www.eeoc.gov/ for more information. There are important time limitations for filing charges with the EEOC. They must be filed within 180 or 300 days of the alleged discriminatory action.

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Newbie

help!

I have been employed for almost 13 years now at my place of employement. My co-worker passed away after 2 years battle of cancer.  He had trained me for his position and I am well qualified for it and was his acting manager the 2 years he was out sick filling his place and also doing my job.  When talked into by a couple board of directors to apply for the manager's position; I adventually did apply.  I was interviewed as they had not interviewed any women.  Once I did interview, they started to interview women.  I was told by another President of Association that was in the interviews that they could not find a qualified man and that I had 2 presidents of Associations out of 7 that had personal adgendas against me.  I asked the board that they not vote for that reason but they refused.  There was not one reason in the 13 years of work that I should not have been besst qualified for this position.  It took them 6 months after my coworker passed away to start interviewing for help for me in office with me asking over and over. 

I was told to my face that they were not going to offer me the position because I was 63 and could retire soon and was too old. Right to my face.  I told them it was illegal what they said and he didn't care.  My coworker was 68 when he passed away and would be still working if alive.  I plan on working for many more years.  I'm single household supporter and have to make a living.  I tried EEOC and the State to file against them for discrimination and was told that our office is under 20 employees and won't take case.

 

Where do I go for a small office with just 3 employees.  It's discriminating against me for age and not enough employees.  It's very frustrating and unfair.  I am at a loss of what to do and they get away with this.   Any suggestions.

Thank you,

 

Carol Masino

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Conversationalist

Since you were not terminated you can't defend yourself cheaply.  You will need to sue.  See if you can find a lawyer who will take payment from the settlement.  If you can't get one, you know your odds are not good.

 

It will be your word against his.

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Moderator
Moderator

Good morning and welcome to the AARP Online Community!

 

Age Discrimination, is the second in a series of topics brought to you by AARP.

 

This is a great chance to connect with an AARP Work & Job experts.

 

Ask AARP Expert Laurie McCann (@LMcCann) your questions and share your stories here!

 

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Contributor

Yes, I have experienced age discrimination.

 

I am a highly qualified special education teacher over the age of 50. I have been employed as a part time tutor for a local company for the last 7 years.

My real passion was always to become a special education resource classroom teacher or an in-class support teacher.  I have yet to be hired in a school district full time or part time. I have applied to many teaching jobs in  New Jersey.  I have had several interviews but no offers. I received rejection letters from those interviews and kept them all in a manilla folder. Discouraged by the constant reminder that I have not reached my full potential as a teacher, I shredded the rejection letters.

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Retired Moderator

Hello, @d584291e,

 

I am sorry to hear about the frustrations you have experienced in your job search. Unfortunately, you are not alone. Older workers face far longer periods of unemployment than younger workers.  Of course, it's hard to say whether age discrimination is behind what you’ve experienced -- because that is the nature of age discrimination in hiring. In most cases, the individual is not provided a reason for why they have not been considered for the position or who was hired instead of them. Without that information, it's impossible to determine if age may have been a factor.  However, if you encounter evidence of age discrimination in your job search, you can file a charge of age discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency that enforces the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). https://www.eeoc.gov/ AARP Foundation Litigation attorneys are challenging age discrimination in hiring in both our litigation cases and friend-of-the-court briefs. Addressing age discrimination in hiring was a key motivation underlying the passage of the ADEA fifty  years ago and more needs to be done to ensure that older applicants are treated fairly. I wish you success in your efforts to find work as a special education teacher.

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