Was I not hired because of my age?

On Friday, October 7, 2016, Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman spoke to members of the networking groups Professional Service Group of Mercer County and The Breakfast Club of New Jersey at the Princeton Library to discuss her latest proposals in the House, H.R. 4972 - Expanding Penalty Free Withdrawal Act of 2016, and H.R. 4973 - Investing in Older Americans Act of 2016. The bills aim to 1) help provide stability to the longterm unemployed while they continue their job search and 2) incentivize employers to hire older Americans. Older Americans are 50% more likely to become long term unemployed than younger individuals. Longterm unemployment is defined as unemployment that lasts for a period of six months or longer. The Congresswoman’s full talk can be viewed here on her Facebook page. 

(Photo Credit: Rep Bonnie Watson Coleman’s Facebook Page)

(Photo Credit: Rep Bonnie Watson Coleman’s Facebook Page)

The Congresswoman spoke passionately about these issues and particularly how they impacted her constituents in the 12th District and New Jersey as a whole. During a question and answer period following her speech, the Congresswoman accepted questions and comments from the audience actively soliciting concerns and ideas that her office could work towards addressing. 

One of the biggest concerns affecting the audience in attendance was the issue of age discrimination during the hiring practice and what could they do to combat it or address it if they felt they had been discriminated against because of their age after an interview. Everyone seems to know that it is problem, but yet there is no clear consensus on the best way to address it. No potential employer can ask you for your age, but that does not stop them from making your high school and college graduation dates mandatory questions on the online application. 

New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination (LAD) (N.J.S.A. 10:5-12), among other things, protects employees and job seekers alike against discrimination based on any of the following: race, creed, color, national origin, age, ancestry, nationality, marital status, sex, gender identity, disability, military service, sexual orientation, or DNA. The federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) offers similar protections. Discrimination on the basis of age is difficult to prove during the job seeking process. While no advertisement or job announcement can specifically exclude any age from applying (with the exception of acting roles), it’s difficult to prove that a particular candidate was not selected from a pool of applicants on the basis of their age, unless a specific comment or overt statement was made. That overt and obvious discrimination typically does not happen during the interviewing process and is difficult for jobseekers to prove. 

A federal judge has certified a class of plaintiffs alleging that Google has consistently interviewed software engineers over the age of 40, but ultimately does not hire any, in violation of the ADEA. The average age of Google’s software engineers is 29, while nationally that average is 43. Google claims that it is protected and immune from suit by its written policies against the practice. Anti-discrimination laws were not created to look good only on paper and serve as lip service. They were meant to be effective and achieve their intended purpose. 

Fill out our online form today to contact our office if you believe have been subjected to age discrimination at the work place.  

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