I previously wrote about the age discrimination verdict against Staples. Last week, NPR published a story about a study by David Neumark and two other professors of economics at UC Irvine showing that the call-back rate for applicants drop as applicants’ ages increase.
Older women witnessed lower call-back rates than older-men and “dropped by around a quarter when you go from the young group to the middle-aged group . . . . And they drop by another quarter when you go from the middle-age group to . . . around age 65.”
Section 12940 of California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act prohibits age discrimination in hiring, selection for training programs leading to employment, and in other terms, conditions, or privileges of employment. Additionally, employers must “take all reasonable steps necessary to prevent discrimination and harassment from occurring.”
Although discriminatory hiring practices are not always blatant, and many job applicants fail to get hired without knowing the true reason why, employers found in violation of the anti-discrimination laws wind up entangled in expensive lawsuits. One such lawsuit was a federal class-action lawsuit against the tobacco giant, R.J. Reynolds. Plaintiff in that case alleged that R.J. Reynolds told recruiters that its ideal candidate for a regional sales representative position was someone who was just two to three years out of college and that applicants with eight to ten years of experience should be avoided. Since new graduated tend to be in their early to mid-20s, only 19 out of the 1,000 people hired was over the age of 40.
In order to minimize the creation of a spark that could turn into a bon-fire, employers should review their hiring policies and requirements for each position with an eye towards preventing discrimination by asking the following questions:
- Is this requirement necessary and/or related to the position?
- If it isn’t, is it likely to disproportionately impact older applicants, disabled applicants, or applicants of a certain race, ethnicity, or religion?
Taking the time to review job requirements through the anti-discrimination prism could save your company from being embroiled in a multi-year, multi-million dollar lawsuit. Even if you are not a large employer like Staples or R.J. Reynolds, you could still be liable for age discrimination.
Contact me at (949) 529-0007 if you have questions about age discrimination or California employment law in general.
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