Ideal age range as hiring criteria? Really?

by Michael Haberman on August 26, 2015 · 0 comments

Just because he is older does not mean he is less capable.

Just because he is older does not mean he is less capable.

If you are over the age of 50 you know that “ageism” is still rampant in the workplace. To me it is the “hidden” discrimination that is far more wide spread than what many people think. If you are in human resources you know that age discrimination is illegal, yet often we turn a blind eye to it while managers look for candidates “better suited to the job.” Few companies, however, wave a discrimination flag. Not in this case unfortunately for the company.

Ideal age

On August 11th, the EEOC announced that they were suing an Indiana manufacturing company for age discrimination. The EEOC alleges that the company rejected a 58 year old candidate because he was outside their “ideal range” of 45-52.  The candidate had been selected for an email based interview and in that interview asked if he was in their “ideal range.” (Personally I am not sure about the HR person that allowed that to occur.) When the candidate responded that he was not he was rejected.

According to the press release “Laurie A. Young, regional attorney for EEOC’s Indianapolis District Office, said, ‘In rejecting an experienced applicant based on age, Seymour Midwest denied him his legal right to equal employment opportunity. Employers must look beyond age and focus on the qualifications of the individual, when making employment decisions.’”

The EEOC is seeking monetary damages and an injunction against further discrimination in addition to educational programs about discrimination and the company obligations under the ADEA.

The interesting thing is that an quick Linked In investigation shows that he president of the company is also outside that “ideal” age, yet they keep him employed. So age doesn’t imply ability in this case.

A warning

Age discrimination is as wrong as any other discrimination. There is a large part of the working population that is above the age of 55 who are still quite capable. Rejecting candidates based on age rather than ability is today a dangerous route for companies to take. People are much more likely to sue for age discrimination than they have in the past.


Photo Credit: Ambro

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