Is Asking An Age Question On An Application Discriminatory?

A Company just moved to my city and there were many news articles about the 2000 well-paying jobs being added to the region. I applied online and went through the steps inputting information. When I got to the 3rd or 4th step, I was asked if I was over 19 and under 40. You could not go on without answering this question. I am over 40 and never received any response. I believe this is illegal and discriminates on the basis of age. How can a company blatantly discriminate like this? I did have all the qualifications for the position I applied for.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, says that employers of 20 or more cannot discriminate in hiring and promotions solely based on age. The loophole for many businesses is that they can say they did not use age information to discriminate, merely to be more aware of the applicant’s potential experiences.

Here is what the ADEA says:

The ADEA does not specifically prohibit an employer from asking an applicant’s age or date of birth. However, because such inquiries may deter older workers from applying for employment or may otherwise indicate possible intent to discriminate based on age, requests for age information will be closely scrutinized to make sure that the inquiry was made for a lawful purpose, rather than for a purpose prohibited by the ADEA.

If you want to pursue this matter, you may want to contact an EEOC office and give them the information and get an opinion about whether or not the requirement is legal. Your state Department of Labor may also have requirements about employment applications.

I agree with you that it sounds very much like those who are above and below the age range mentioned will not be selected, based on a pretext. That may not be the case, but it creates distrust.

Best wishes to you with this matter. If you find out something definitive, please let us know so we can share it when we are asked about something similar in the future.

Tina Rowe
Ask the Workplace Doctors

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.