The U.S. House of Representatives has passed the Protect Older Job Applicants Act of 2021, clarifying that external job applicants can bring disparate impact discrimination claims under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).
“People of all ages, but especially older applicants, must be protected from discriminatory practices and loopholes that hurt their chances to get a job, especially as we have seen that older American workers have disproportionately experienced long-term unemployment in the COVID economy,” said Rep. Sylvia R. Garcia, D-Texas, the lead sponsor of the bill, which passed Nov. 4.
An amendment to the bill requires the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to conduct a study on age discrimination in the job application process and issue recommendations on addressing the problem.
President Joe Biden supports the measure, but chances of Senate passage are slim.
We’ve rounded up articles from SHRM Online to provide more context on the news.
Anti-Discrimination Protections for Older Applicants
The House Committee on Education and Labor advanced the legislation in July in response to federal court rulings that some provisions of the ADEA’s anti-discrimination protections only applied to current employees, not external job applicants.
Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., explained that the bill is complementary legislation to the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act, passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in June. The earlier bill aimed to restore protections for workers age 40 and older by making it easier for people to sue for age discrimination even if age was not the sole cause of the challenged employment decision.
What Does It Take to Prove Age Discrimination?
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on April 6 that a federal employee claiming age discrimination has to show only that age was a motivating factor—rather than the key reason—that the employer made an adverse employment decision. But the available remedies may be limited if the employer would have taken the same action anyway for nondiscriminatory reasons.
Study Finds That Age Discrimination Persists
More than 50 years after Congress made it illegal for employers to discriminate against workers age 40 or older, data analysis by the Urban Institute and ProPublica shows that more than half of older U.S. workers are pushed out of longtime jobs before they choose to retire.
PwC Settles Age Discrimination in Hiring Claim
Professional services firm PwC agreed to pay $11.6 million and change its recruiting practices to settle a class-action lawsuit alleging age discrimination in hiring. The lawsuit alleging “aggressive” recruitment of college students and recent graduates—to the exclusion of older job seekers—tested whether campus recruiting could make employers liable in age discrimination claims.