EEOC: Employer refused to hire applicant 'nearing retirement'
- Pennsylvania's state Office of Public Records will pay $60,000 to settle an age discrimination in hiring lawsuit, according to a statement from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
- The Public Records Office allegedly passed over Joseph Bednarik, an attorney over the age of 40 with 30 years of legal experience, to hire a younger, less experienced candidate as an appeals officer. According to the suit, the office's executive director expressed concerns during a second interview that Bednarik (who had previously worked 17 years with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission) might be nearing retirement.
- The EEOC charged the Public Records Office with violating the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), which protects workers age 40 and older from discrimination based on age.
The EEOC seems as committed to enforcing the ADEA as ever. There was speculation after the 2016 presidential election that the agency might shift priorities, even after issuing the Age Discrimination: An Overview of the Law and Recent Commission Decisions in Volume 2 of the 2017 EEO Digest. But in recent bias cases, including ageism charges against PwC in April, the EEOC's enforcement efforts haven't slowed down.
Employers often prefer to hire younger workers because they're thought to be more productive and less expensive; health benefits costs tend to be higher for older workers. But ageism may be rampant in many workplaces, a situation the EEOC is closely watching.
Employers need to avoid making any employment decisions — recruiting, hiring, firing or disciplining — based on age alone in order to comply with the law.