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

Many of our readers have continued to struggle with the question of “what is age discrimination in the workplace?” Ageism can affect workers at all stages of their lives. But 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? Since it is really hard to prove. What are your thoughts and comments? This information is provided by the The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.(Editor’s note)   

Federal Laws Prohibiting Job Discrimination Questions And Answers

Federal Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Laws

I. 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 web site at; from OSC at (202) 653-7188.

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

  11 comments for “Age Bias: Do Hiring Managers Care That Federal Laws Prohibit Age Discrimination When Hiring?

  1. scott cunningham
    March 9, 2012 at 6:32 am

    This was a totally useless article. You really did not dig into the facts we all need to read to change things for older workers. We all know there are laws against age discrimination, but what can your readers do about it is the important step. You failed to deliver that information so let me do it for you.

    The groups the government should help are minorities, the disabled, and especially older workers who do not get much of the federal contracts that amount to $500 billion a year. Older workers are supposed to be protected by the EEOC but they are not. Minorities fare better. Most age discrimination cases are for people who are older and get fired from their jobs, not people who are older who can’t get hired. The latter is harder to prove.

    Since it is almost impossible to prove you were not hired because you are over 40 (as you know, The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) forbids age discrimination against people who are age 40 or older), and law suits that win require hiring statistics which are difficult to get, one solution is to have state and federal contracts only be given to companies who voluntarily show their hiring statistics. No submission of hiring statistics, no contract. The mayor of New York City and president Obama have said they want to give more of the federal contracts to minorities. Why not include older workers?

    There is a new Labor Dept law that (Director Shiu wants to implement) that will require hiring statistics for companies to show how many disabled workers they have (the new rules will ask companies to hire 7% of their staff as disabled) why not ask about age information? The Labor Dept can ask workers to voluntarily give their age information just as they plan to do for the disabled (you cannot mandate this but volunteering the information solves the problem.

    This would go a long way to correcting the older worker hiring problem before Congress finds the time to change the EEOC rules and grants it the rule of law OFCCP has (but with no mandate to protect age). The OFCCP is ruled by the Labor Dept to make sure companies have balanced hiring practices. Forms are filled out to show a good cross section of ethic groups were interviewed for jobs. Age of the applicant is not asked for. The OFCCP depends on the EEOC to prevent age discrimination. To have “age” excluded from the OFCCP forms does no one any good. If EEOC would add an “age” category to their form, that would also help. They do not have it now. The EEOC form only has columns for ethnic groups, no column for age. This needs to be changed and forcing companies to hire older workers makes sense since the Labor Dept is now telling companies to hire the disabled too. Why don’t older workers count as much as ethic groups who are equal not superior protected classes?

    We need the Labor Department to stop this injustice. Older workers will have to work for many more years since the economy wiped out their savings. They need jobs. There are minority older workers and older disabled workers so helping older workers in general helps all protected classes, don’t you agree?

  2. Natalia
    March 9, 2012 at 9:51 am

    Thanks for your comments and insight. Perhaps you would like to be a guest contributor on this issue. It sounds like you have some strong opinions and knowledge. Have a great day.

  3. scott cunningham
    March 9, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    Yes, I do have strong opinions since I had to look into all this because a friend needed to pay her rent and could not get a job and almost got evicted. She was willing to take an admin job to pay the rent. Many older workers would be happy to pay the rent and not jump to a better job as some HR folks think. You can get over qualified older workers who are happy to stay where they are and not move once they get a job, but HR folks don’t believe it so they hire younger workers who don’t last. The price to replace a worker is very high. My friend ended up with a stroke from eviction pressures and died from pneumonia. Had she lived she would have cost the taxpayers a lot of money to take care of her. Wouldn’t a job have been a better idea? This administration gives out lots of money to lots of people. How about helping the protected class of older workers no one seems to care about. We count for a lot of votes but neither the Democrats or the Republicans are ensuring we get jobs.

  4. March 12, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    I agree the mature employment seekers are doomed from the start. I would like to share my story. I am a Recruiter and have been for 12 years. I was laid off after 5 years of loyal service, due to the economy–no orders–no cash flow. I was called in for an interview. I went and was introduced to the twenty something manager. He said, I would be talking some Personality tests. I replied, “I haven’t taken a test in a while much less a personality test so I may be rusty.” His reply, “Oh your a COUGAR you will do just fine.” Well, imagine my shock! I was thrown off and who knows how I did on the tests. I wrote/emailed a thank you note and never heard back from him. I reported the reply to the person who set the interview up and did not hear back from her either. This is a TRUE STORY!!!! Being a mature,professional, recruiter–I just dismissed it.

  5. Yve
    March 13, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    @Debra – you should have gone directly to the EEOC, and not “dismissed it.” That was unacceptable. We let this kind of thing go and do not file complaints with the EEOC, then there is no reason to complain. The agency has to take action on filed complaints, that’s the law. Again, people complain but do nothing.

  6. Cara
    March 28, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    You hit the nail on the head. We DO need the Labor Department to do
    something for we, “older workers”.
    Minorities and disabled have greater rights. Why not those of us over 40?
    Proof of age discrimination in hiring practices is virtually impossible as employers
    give vague reasons for not hiring a person.
    It’s about time our government takes a closer look at:
    1. Details of which employees companies have either terminated or laid off (age included).
    2. WHO employers are hiring within their application pool. Again, including ages of
    those hired.
    Age discrimination is quite blatantly evident in hiring practices and unless LAWS are enforced, unless the issue is addressed, will those of us who are unemployed, be able to make it back into the workforce.
    Is sweeping this major problem just another corrupt action of government/corporations washing each other’s hands in the name of the almighty dollar and greed?

  7. Daniel S. Markham
    May 10, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    Does age discrimination exist – ABSOLUTELY!!!

    You can have all the anti-age discrimination laws you want – you can’t legislate attitude nor ignorance; and they can’t be enforced unless someone is blatantly stupid enough to say someone was not hired because of their age!!

    How many anti-murder laws have stopped murders; how about speed limits have stopped speeding.

    And the employer has a “cover-all explanation” – he/she is over-qualified!!!

    We all know that means he’she is too old but, try enforcing any of the age laws!!! Good luck!!!

    Wish it weren’t so, but it’s there.

  8. Marilyn Poliakoff
    May 10, 2014 at 4:17 pm

    After being laid off from a non-profit so they could hire the niece of the biggest donor, I have sent out many resumes and “networked. The resume has been revised by Career professionals. I have taken a computer programming class to update my skills in addition to my 2 masters degrees and 25 year background in corp, academic and non-profit background.

    I have only been able to get a very low paid, part time job and I know the people looking at my resume have assumed I would want too much money because of my education and experience. To me this feels like a form of discrimination, because they are thinking I am too old and will cost too much.

    In several cases it has been very obvious I have been a threat to the hiring “manager” or the “interviewer” had no clue about interviewing. I have been given so many insane excuses for not getting the job. One “manager” told me I wasn’t passionate enough, even though I was complimented by another member of her team on my presentation on the content and my told my passion was very evident.

    How does one fight this kind of mentality?

  9. Angela
    May 12, 2014 at 9:07 am

    The interesting thing about this discrimination is that – you may not even get the interview. All of these new computer recruitment systems ask for date of birth. The moment you enter 1960-1970 etc….its DOOMED! They don’t have to call you when they see the birthdates. We should PREVENT companies from asking our age at the recruitment phase. Force employers to deal with older workers face to face rather than the easy dismissal through the recruitment systems. Someone told me that now I have to leave my college graduation dates OFF – because 1986 is way too long ago. What is this insanity?

  10. Henry
    May 12, 2014 at 1:16 pm

    We all know companies can easily fire an older worker or reorganize an area to get rid of older workers. In some cases the person who was hired as a replacement or in the re-organization was less qualified than the person who was let go. Going to EEOC could be considered a waste of time.
    EEOC might favor the employer and suggest that if a person wants to file an action, the person can do so without assistance from EEOC. It is not unusual for the company to go back to the previous system after 6 months – a year, after the newly hired who could not do the job, quit.How can an unemployed hire a lawyer to fight a company? It is TOUGH for over 50s to get employment.

  11. Sherry Williams
    June 23, 2016 at 1:07 pm

    My husband is 62. He has applied for 2000 jobs plus. He has an unbelievable resume for middle management sales positions within the food industry including a few special projects which were technology was the emphasis. He did take a lower level job making 1/4 of his previous salary hoping since he was “in the system” he would get promoted quickly, He was bypassed stating they have to have 18 months experience first, wiping 40 years of experience down the drain. They can’t keep that position, because younger people will not do the physical work. He goes through the process of a couple of phone interviews and then a couple of personal interviews. They always seem excited, but then he does not get the job and all feedback is positive, yes I’m aware of HR rules, but anyway it is very frustrating. He has had friends talk to hiring managers, etc., but they seem to have not control. They do make comment about the physical work at times, but with what he is doing it should be not obstacle. A few times the immediate hiring manager was upset because they want to hire him, but was overruled by HR…. I bring discrimination up, but as above he says it is too hard to prove. What hurts more than anything many of the people are so much less professional than my husband. Any advice?

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