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Monday, April 25, 2016

Age Bias: Do Hiring Managers Care That Federal Laws Prohibit Age Discrimination When Hiring?

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Many people struggle with the definition of "age discrimination in the workplace." Although, ageism can affect workers at all stages of their lives, there are specific laws intended to protect 40 plus year old job seekers from age discrimination.  

But do hiring managers really pay any attention to laws regarding age discrimination? What are your thoughts and comments? 

This information is provided by the The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.(Editor's note).

Frequently Asked Questions

Federal Laws Prohibiting Job Discrimination 
Federal Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Laws

What Are the Federal Laws Prohibiting Job Discrimination?

    * Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin;
    * the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA), which protects men and women who perform substantially equal work in the same establishment from sex-based wage discrimination;
    * the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), which protects individuals who are 40 years of age or older;
    * Title I and Title V of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended (ADA), which prohibit employment discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities in the private sector, and in state and local governments;
    * Sections 501 and 505 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibit discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities who work in the federal government;
    * Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA), which prohibits employment discrimination based on genetic information about an applicant, employee, or former employee; and     
   * the Civil Rights Act of 1991, which, among other things, provides monetary damages in cases of intentional employment discrimination.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces all of these laws. EEOC also provides oversight and coordination of all federal equal employment opportunity regulations, practices, and policies.

Other federal laws, not enforced by EEOC, also prohibit discrimination and reprisal against federal employees and applicants. The Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 (CSRA) contains a number of prohibitions, known as prohibited personnel practices, which are designed to promote overall fairness in federal personnel actions. 5 U.S.C. 2302. The CSRA prohibits any employee who has authority to take certain personnel actions from discriminating for or against employees or applicants for employment on the bases of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age or disability. 

It also provides that certain personnel actions can not be based on attributes or conduct that do not adversely affect employee performance, such as marital status and political affiliation. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has interpreted the prohibition of discrimination based on conduct to include discrimination based on sexual orientation. The CSRA also prohibits reprisal against federal employees or applicants for whistle-blowing, or for exercising an appeal, complaint, or grievance right. The CSRA is enforced by both the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) and the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB).

Additional information about the enforcement of the CSRA may be found on the OPM website from OSC at (202) 653-7188 and from MSPB at (202) 653-6772.

Free Webinar: “5 Tips to Battle Ageism”Register Here>>>>>>>

Sometimes older job seekers have to overcompensate by just being more prepared for their Next Interview. Are you?

    48 Post a Comment :

    Anonymous said...

    Yes, its illegal. But what can a person that's been looking for a direct hire job for the last 12 years do about it. In and out of temp jobs for 12 years. And now when I call agencies they say that there is only contract work. Isn't the company encouraging age discrimination by only offering contract work? From what I understand they hire via contract because they don't want to pay medical benefits because of our age.


    Anonymous said...

    It would be interesting to see statistics on the number of complaints filed, lawsuits filed and the number of judgements against corporations who have violated this act. Congress surely must have passed this act knowing it would have no effect or minimal effect on their campaign contributors.

    Carol said...

    My age actually came up in an interview a couple of weeks ags saying that it was the person's only concern. I called a couple of lawyers and they wouldn't take the case because it was too hard to prove as being the ONLY reason they didn't select me.


    Anonymous said...

    I have had several interveiws that I knew were over when the "Under 30 Human Resource Manager" meet my gray hair. Age discrimination is alive and well. Why do you think over 40 white males are the highest unemployed? We know to much, have earned to much, and you can feel the resentment in the interveiw.

    Anonymous said...

    Over 40s are non-persons, now. The younger people who are (rarely)interviewing us and sending us rejection notices or (mostly)not responding to us at all, will have a startling wake up call when they
    get older and become disposible.

    oceanflash08 said...

    We are not disposable but all cultures have biases and we have to be aware of them. If you are overweight you might be discriminated in a hire. If you are a man who wears an earing you might be discriminated in hiring. If you DO NOT have tattoos you might be discriminated in hiring.

    DJ Loggins said...

    My Domestic Partner has run into age discrimination on the other end of the spectrum, because he is less than 30 and applying for Hospitality and Food Service Management positions, which he is eminently qualified for. He has an Associate's degree in Culinary Sciences and is a Certified Le Cordon Bleu Executive Master Chef & Master Saucier, and also has a bachelor's Degree from Univ. of Texas in Sports Training & Management. He also has been working in the food service and hospitality industries since he was 15 years old.
    He has had no less than three different HR managers refuse to hire him because "you're too young". One even went so far as to say "Well, most of our staff are older than you and I don't think they could handle taking orders from someone so young". He got his Associates while still in High School, and finished his Bachelor's program in the top 1% of his class at UT-Austin, graduating not on time, but early. He is obviously very qualified for the positions he applies for, but has not been able to find anything, despite his education and experience, in over two years. He usually gets the line that he is "over-qualified".

    Data said...

    Hiring managers are not the least bit concerned about laws prohibiting age discrimination or any discrimination for that matter.

    It is hard enough to prove that you were fired on the basis of discrimination and virtually impossible on the hiring end. As another poster mentioned, it is nigh impossible for the applicant to prove age discrimination, even when it appears blatent. Recently, the US Supreme Court all but completely gutted Federal Laws against age discrimination by ruling that age had to be the "only" reason for an employer action (I'm going from memory here, so I could have the details wrong).

    In fact, other than avoiding some prohibited questions and extreme and overt discriminatory statements, a hiring manager can ignore labor laws entirely. Anyone who has been passed over and actually received a notice should be familiar with the boilerplate that is used to protect the potential employer from any legal challenge.

    In three years I've only had one hiring manager come clean on why I didn't get a job. In that case it was HR that blocked my hire because I had been a whistleblower in my previous job.

    Anonymous said...

    Clearly the over 40 crowd need to step up and unite. Just saying 'we have to work around it' is not going to get it done.

    Would the Hispanic Community put up with the same discrimination?

    Anonymous said...

    I have taken to shortening the experience section of my resume in hopes that I will get in for an interview. I have also taken to boycotting the two biggest software companies in the Seattle area because they are the most agredious offenders of age discrimination.

    Anonymous said...

    Companies still practice "lay-off"or termination of employees over 42 now whereas the magical number was 50 to get rid of the higher waged employee with benefits. And yet they complain they can;t find good employees. The philosopy of employers has changed so dramatically from rewarding employees for good work and loyalty to taking advantage of their employees in every way they can just so they can increase those profit margins.Do they grow the business with those increases? NO they increase their personal wealth. The sad part is they are laughing about being able to take advantage of recession and being able to hire overqualifed people for substandard wages. They even alter job descriptions after a person has been hired to perform one job to absorb the duties of employees they have terminated 3tiers below that person to save a buck. Sad

    Anonymous said...

    I am way over 40 and I feel it, especially living in a city where the average age is much younger than mine. I do feel that age discrimination is alive and well. That said...
    --many over 40 people get jobs, and many under 40 passed over.
    --There's no magic formula whereby one can discern exactly what type of person the employer is seeking. In fact, they may not know themselves until they feel the love with someone.
    --When applying for a lower-level "tide-me-over" job, I do think it's a good idea to shorten a resume because much of your experience will not be relevant.
    --I applied for one of those jobs recently, and the hiring manager asked me how he could know whether I would quit as soon as the first job commensurate with my experience came along. I told him that I would give sufficient notice and that perhaps I would even end up moving up in the company, a department store chain. Had I been quicker on the draw, I also would have noted that the "kids" these companies hire for low-level positions probably quit faster than the older ones! No, I didn't get a job offer--but I also arrived in a rush and spilled coffee down the front of my suit as a result. Not a great impression to make at any age.
    --I think the best anyone can do is prepare for the interview and focus on what they can add to the company. For older candidates, that may be experience. For younger ones, it may be more of a willingness to learn or knowledge of the newest technologies. That is all you can do. If you offer what the company wants, they'll offer you the job. Think positive! Trust me; I know that is difficult to do.
    --Some older candidates try to completely disguise their age with clothing, Botox and whatever else. In my opinion, that's a mistake. Okay, maybe Botox is okay if that's what you want, but in the end, people know you're not a kid. Worse, you come off looking inauthentic.
    --Conversely, I do think it makes sense to wear age-appropriate, updated clothing, have a stylish haircut and (for women, duh) wear TASTEFUL makeup. If you don't know how, watch "What Not to Wear" on TLC. Also, be sure to promote your updated skills. Whatever you do, don't act like a know-it-all who's been there, done that. Every company does things differently and even those of us who think we know the best way to do something might not. In any case, trying to push the river is generally a bad idea in my experience. "Kids" and "older workers" alike are new kids on the block when applying for and staring new jobs.
    --Finally, don't waste your time worrying about lawsuits or the EEOC. Your chances of winning any such case are almost nil., Sadly, employment-at-will is the law of the land. Focus instead on looking forward.

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    Oscar said...

    Another argument for starting your own business. Hire yourself.

    Nancy said...

    I am over 60, a woman, and transsexual. In Massachusetts, all of those are protected (and CSRA probably would if it was enforced). But, I can guarantee you that I experience discrimination for one or more of those frequently, both in hiring and firing. The only thing those laws do is make the company be more "creative" in what they say are the reasons.

    As "Data" says, if you even try to sue, you will then add "whistle blower" to the list of strikes against you. Proving this discrimination to the court's satisfaction is virtually impossible.

    These laws only serve to slightly sensitize a company to what they do. For the most part, the laws are useless.

    Matt Becker said...

    The September 3 anonymous poster made many very good points. I was a headhunter for 20 years, and without a doubt, the biggest form of discrimination was ageism. Nothing else even came close. Much of it is short sightedness on the part of HR or hiring managers. Certain of these companies will never hire people over 50 under any circumstance, and frankly, there is nothing you can do about that. It is their loss if you are truly great at what you do. But there are many others who will hire more experienced workers if they present themselves properly. As an older worker, you need to make sure to stay up on current technologies, industry trends and make sure to sell your positive attributes that a younger worker can not compete with. Do not complain or whine about your lot in life whether it is personal or from prior jobs. Be positive. Show that your experience has allowed you to deal with a wide variety of people and situations. Explain how you have handled specific problems with skill, demonstrate the value you will bring to their organization by telling some of your previous success stories. Give specific concrete examples of how you saved or made money for your company. Don't be afraid to tout your strengths, again being extremely specific. For instance, I closed the 3 biggest sales the company ever made, or I improved our collection rates by 8 days DSO, or my negotiating prowess allowed us to save $100,000 on an equipment purchase, etc. Use your network. If you have been a great employee for years, your network is your most valuable asset. If you haven't, you are in trouble. Jobs are out there. Looking for one should be treated like a 40+ hr per week job. It can be discouraging, but you need to keep plugging. You just need to find the right match with someone who will properly recognize all that you can bring to the table. Good luck.

    oceanflash08 said...

    Matt, great straight forward advice. Thanks for sharing it.

    Anonymous said...

    On an interview this week the hiring manager (mid 30 female) says "...I like you and think you would be great for the role but I have 1 other question...How long have you worn your hair gray?..." I am 52 yr old male. I was shocked and pissed off but tried to be humorous about it. Is that age discrimination that happens thousands of times/day by biased hiring managers to wonderful candidates? You bet! Could I prove it or do anything about it?? Nope!!! Being discarded for the color of your hair? Somethin ain't right. Keep grinding!!!

    Anonymous said...

    I have had age mentioned twice in job interviews. Once the head of the department said 'H*ll we are looking for someone younger.' The second time interviewers said 'We are getting long in the tooth.' I have been asked when I graduated from high school, which I believe is illegal.
    I send an email about such practices in the federal government to the OPM and never received a reply.
    Let's face it, the authorities do not care about this.

    Chris Mykrantz said...

    Age discrimination is now the most widely accepted form of discrimination that exists in the job market. And the adoption of technology in recruiting makes it that much easier to practice. Many of the posters responding to this article have had good advice on how to sell yourself and your accomplishments at interviews, etc. The problem is that the automation of the recruiting process virtually guarantees that no one over 40 will ever reach the candidate pool on the vast majority of jobs open in the marketplace. I am certain that companies using resume screening software are configuring that software to exclude any that list more than 20 years of experience. If this is true, good luck ever getting invited to an interview. And as most of you have said, it's impossible to prove this is happening.

    Anonymous said...

    On the comment about length experience on resumes being a trigger for discriminition (it is). When I was laid off from a major Pharma the outplacement firm told us that it was fine to put 10-15 years of experience on the resume and leave everything else out. Also, take off graduation dates or anything else that would identify your exact age. I also removed dates from Linkedin and Facebook that went back further than 15 years.

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    Anonymous said...

    Here in Europe, not only is age openly asked, photographs are encouranged on all CVs.

    Anonymous said...

    I have great sympathy for people seeking work over 40 years. As someone who is over 50 years and is an employer I see both sides of the argument.

    1. Protected categories are very well intentioned but they prevent the hiring of the very people that they aim to protect. If people are protected, then you cannot lay them off or make them redundant (for good reasons) without someone threatening a law suit. Hence, it is easier not to employ them in the first place.
    2. Older employees are less likely to be as driven as younger employees. Moreover, they have less energy and tend to be less enthusiastic. In many jobs these do not matter, but many older employees are not even aware of this. They are also more likely to want a work / life balance (as do many employees, but not necessarily employers).
    3. It may seem logical that ones salary increases with age. This is not true, but this is very often the expectation. Many younger people can do the same job, but cheaper. There is a sound financial argument for hiring the younger (and cheaper) person.
    4. Experience is very important, but for most jobs skills are more important. Many older employers have let their skills lag, and experience cannot compensate(most of the time).

    However, all is not lost and I have employed many older people, even over 60. It is important that older employees are completely up to date with skills, latest thinking and practices (not what their old company used to do). Only make changes with approval and only if there are tangible benefits. They should be careful about sick days (although of course they must look after their health), and try to make medical appointments out of hours if they have chronic conditions. They should accept a salary that is truly commensurate with the going rate, and be prepared to report to younger people (even if they do not know better). Finally, the experience card should be played, along with the concept that they will not go seek other employment at the drop of a hat or the first call from a head hunter, but they are still ambitious enough to develop (lack of ambition signifies a lack of enthusiasm)

    Remember, people hire real skills not general management experience.

    Sandra said...

    Age discrimination is very real. I am 58 and worked for a government contractor. When the contract changed and we were being placed in our new departments, my new boss was alot younger than me and told my former boss that he really didn't want me to work for him because he didn't want to pick up any more older workers but wanted fresh young folks from college. Two months later i was laid off. went to a lawyer and he couldn't do anything to help me because my former boss refused to talk because he was 62 and afraid he would lose his job. and almost every contractor application I have filled out asks for your High school graduation date. and here I sit educated, experienced without a job for a year now.

    Anonymous said...

    When the government says "I'm here to help you" as in the case of this law, run for the hills. There is almost nothing you can do to stop age discrimination. Any lawyer will tell you a smoking gun is needed and several witnesses.
    What we need to do is better prepare ourselves for our careers and tell them why older workwers are a bargain.

    Anonymous said...

    Two words: digital recorder. These devices are inexpensive and can be dropped in your bag or pocket. Turn on the digital recorder (they record for several hours), before you enter for an interview. When someone asks about your gray hair or your high school graduation date, take that recording to an attorney and see if they can do something with that. A person can be subpoenaed and under penalty of perjury when asked, "Is that your voice?" will have to concede.

    Ageism is alive and well and if the bastards are caught now and again or frequently, maybe something will change.

    Anonymous said...

    Two words: digital recorder. These devices are inexpensive and can be dropped in your bag or pocket. Turn on the digital recorder (they record for several hours), before you enter for an interview. When someone asks about your gray hair or your high school graduation date, take that recording to an attorney and see if they can do something with that. A person can be subpoenaed and under penalty of perjury when asked, "Is that your voice?" will have to concede.

    Ageism is alive and well and if the bastards are caught now and again or frequently, maybe something will change.

    Anonymous said...

    I have read every one of the comments on the age issue. I am 66
    and lost my job Jan-09 as a Field Sales rep with a Co almost 16 years
    With over 26 years in the same industry and almost 40 years sales,
    I can't get hired. I have been very
    selective about the jobs & Co's I
    have interviwed with so as not to
    waste my time or anyone elses. You
    just have to know when to fold the
    cards over.

    Anonymous said...

    I'm 65. Very experienced but lost my job in March due to CEO suddenly closing business due to taking $ for personal use and investors pulled out. It was devastating since it was a great job/great pay. I've been trying to get a job since and recently received offer letter which I signed and returned. So happy to find something. Then I was told I had to give them my SSN and DOB to put into their system to generate the screening process documents online. I have waited over a week, emailed them, called, left messages and I still do not have the information to start the screening process. The reason? I suspect because they have my DOB, they have decided I'm too old. I look 50, am healthy and will probably live to bee 100 as others in my family do. I intend to work at least 10 more years. But here I sit waiting for these people to send me materials so we can finalize the job. I've never had trouble getting a job. I cannot find another reason that they would delay this and am starting to sound paranoid but there is nothing that could prevent me from working there. I have a government "secret" clearance - I am squeaky clean so they can't come back and tell me I didn't pass IF I ever get to that point. Age discrimination is real and it sucks. And I don't believe hiring managers care - they just assume you are going to retire "soon." I wish I could but I can't.

    Anonymous said...

    So, I am 52, & a seasoned long time employee, 25 years. Been running my 3 person department for 10 years. The President decides to create a new VP position overseeing my Department & gives it to a 44 year old. Is this a age discrimination issue? Or because the newly hired guy is over 40, is it not?

    Anonymous said...

    It is disheartening to read that most people believe that nothing can really be done to rectify age discrimination. I think quota systems simil;ar to other "affirmative action" programs that have preceeded should be in place for companies over a certain size in order to change attitudes and hiring practices. As with financial and regulatory matters in which public companies are required to report, such as board compensation, they should also be required to report the distribution of their employees by age, sex and other factors. If their employment pool does not reflect to some extent the general population (at least up to the "normal" retirement age of 65-70), closer scutiny of their hiring practices should be looked into, and enforced changes should be made if necessary. Once you have more a more diverse work force in place, I think you will find that age and other forms of employment discrimination will reduce. I am not a big fan of regulatory intervention but I can see this is a case of market failure where government or regulatory intervention appears to be required

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    Anonymous said...

    It is happening all over, but hard to prove. I have years of experience and still need to work to live but do not seem to be able to get a new job in my field or as a cashier somewhere.
    So what do we do when you look for a full time permanent position for over 5 years, and know you are being judged on your age, not you abilities.

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    Anonymous said...

    I'm finding out that a highly qualified older person can't even get an interview. A resume from an older person gets rejected out of hand. What a sick society we live in!

    Anonymous said...

    I am in my late 50's and have been looking for a good job since 2008. Luckily, I have been contracting most of that time with one company. But for that I just got a call and was asked if I could start on Monday. So there was no interview. I have sent my resume in for hundreds of jobs for which I am qualified, but have had less than 10 interviews in the last 5 years. Granted, perhaps it's my resume, and I am working on that. However, I have very silver hair, but other than that I am told I don't look my age. I am thinking of trying an experiment. I am thinking of putting my 28 year old daughter's picture on my Linkedin and Facebook sites. My resume already shows I graduated from college in 2003 and I don't put any employment over 10 years on it. I'd like to know if having a younger picture on Linked might have some affect, at least until they see the real me. I would appreciate anyone's opinion on the ethical issue of this.

    Anonymous said...

    I'm 56 years old, and have worked in my field,(social services), for more than 30 years until last March. I've sent out resumes, had interviews, but nothing. First I tried leaving my college graduation date off my resume, that works until the HR person asks for a copy of my college diploma. It's not to hard to presume that that HR person does the math, and bingo they know my age. While I considered using, "Just for Men" to cover my greying hair, I can't afford it. so what I did recently is to get a more modern up to date haircut. It hides most of my grey hair. If other men my age or a little less, and still have all their hair, you should try this.

    Anonymous said...

    I agree that it is virtually impossible to prove agism. I am 53 and will be imminently unemployed due to my employer closing. Like others on this blog I've shortened my resume, dumbed it down, taken off dates etc to get my interviews. Once there, the euphemisms I get during interviews are amazing. "Wow, you have a LOT of experience"; "You have a WIDE BREADTH of background"; "Your resume is really FULL". All from kids who learned as history the economic upheavels that are part of my really full wide breadth of background.

    Anonymous said...

    Age discrimination is rampant in this tight job market. I seen it blatantly committed in the State of Ohio. I am in my 50's and at my last position I was told on numerous occasions people my age should retire. It can be sullen, it can be open. Nothing will ever change since no one enforces the law, and it is up to the victim of it to do something about it, which is a uphill battle. . since it can be expensive when one lost their position due to it.

    Michele said...

    The fact the Federal Government legislates Acts against discrimination confirms the extent of discrimination within the American workforce. Discrimination is culturally based and age discrimination is the most egregious because it is socially endorsed. It is one thing to have Acts to make it illegal to discriminate and quite another to enforce the Acts. Enforcement is the key to making a difference. No difference has been evident in my lifetime.

    Anonymous said...

    You can take direct action against age discrimination in job postings. Job requirements that request an experience range, say 3-5 years of experience, are illegal under ADEA because they discourage the protected class of workers, those over 40 from applying. I've made it my personal quest to educate HR managers ignorant of the law. I email them and explain that they can post "3+ years of experience" or "a minimum of 3 years of experience" but not 3-5. The reactions I've received have varied from no reply but a quick change to the language in the posting to "Okay, pookie." One hiring manager at a time and we can at least get compliance with the ADEA as it addresses job postings. Try it - with jobs in your field but obviously those you personally are not interested in applying for.

    Arindam Chattopadhyaya said...

    Very very good idea.

    JBP said...

    I'm 40, and just beginning a career in accounting, which took me five long years to train for. I just finished my Master of Accounting degree and graduated at the top (literally the top) of my class. I have several academic accolades and awards to prove it. I also completed an internship and have worked in the field (part time) ever since starting my upper division classes. Unfortunately I cant seem to find a job. Although I'm applying for entry level accounting positions, which are in line with my education and experience, I often hear things like: "We are afraid you will be bored" or "You come across as very seasoned". Accounting is a field with extremely low unemployment, and a huge demand problem, and yet for a 40 year old person who decided to pursue it later in life, finding a job is becoming an exercise in reaching new lows.

    Greg Mills said...

    There's nothing I can do about being chronologically over 50 years old. It's funny. We grew up in the generation (or even just after the generation!) that lived by the "Don't trust anyone over 30" mantra. Yet we adapted. We continue to adapt. We will continue to adapt. The comments in this discussion are right on point, despite a few typos and/or misspellings! Some bitterness comes through in some of the comments, but everyone has borne various loads and has different breaking points. Work on being the best person you can be, try to keep whatever level of bitterness you have at bay, and don't let "them" win. We're all in this together.
    When we were just starting out, we used logic and enthusiasm to get our feet in the door to start our careers to be hired by those older than us. I may be naive, but I believe this combination is still a winning approach. We've dealt with much worse than this. How can we NOT persevere?

    Anonymous said...

    If you spent more time networking and cleaning up your resume and reading all the other articles on Interns Over Forty instead of wasting time wining and crying about age discrimination.

    Anonymous said...

    I have actually been asked how many more years I planned on working for during 2 different interviews. While I look younger than my 60 years, and limit my resume to the last 15 years of experience, once I show up for the interview it's quite obvious I am well over 40 and, at that point, the interview is rushed through and quickly ended.

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