Can a Company Exclude Me from the Hiring Process due to my Age?

Nate Thompson is the firm’s guest blogger.  He is a full-time student at Wheaton College and an intern at Favaro & Gorman, Ltd.

In March of 2014, a 58-year-old male attorney from the Chicago area began looking for a new job. The veteran attorney applied for many jobs, including one with CareFusion Corporation. Included in the job listing for the position was the requirement that applicants have “3 to 7 years (no more than 7 years) of relevant legal experience.” Thus, the lawyer was not even considered for the job with CareFusion. Instead, the company went on to hire a 29-year-old for the position.

Ultimately, the lawyer went to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and received a right to sue. He went on to file a suit against the company under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), claiming to have suffered disparate impact. In other words, he was claiming that the requirement which capped work experience at 7 years, while facially neutral, had adversely impacted him due to his age.

In the district court, the lawyer’s claim was originally dismissed. The court ruled that, because it was never clearly stated in the ADEA, protection against disparate impact in the pre-hiring process is not provided by the legislation. He went on to appeal the decision in the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. In April, the 7th Circuit reversed the district court’s dismissal. It held that, while not specifically provided for, the ADEA does protect even potential employees from disparate impact.

This decision is significant for members of the workforce aged 40 and over. To answer our original question: no, employers cannot exclude a person from the hiring process due to age, whether explicitly or for seemingly neutral reason. If one feels they are being adversely acted against due to their age as employees or in the hiring process, they have protection under the ADEA.

DISCLAIMER: The above is not and should not be interpreted as legal advice. It is for informational purposes only. You should consult an attorney for legal advice. If you feel that this post may apply to you, click here to schedule an appointment with our firm.