Can a Prospective Employer Ever Inquire About My Age?

elderly woman working

When you apply for a job, you are likely confident that you have the experience and skills that make you the ideal candidate for the position. You may never guess that your age would affect your chances of receiving an offer. And you may wonder whether your age should matter at all. Continue reading to learn whether a prospective employer can ever inquire about your age and how an experienced New York discrimination lawyer at Bell Law Group can help you handle this situation.

What are federal and New York State age discrimination laws?

Most notably, there is the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) of 1967. This Act is enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and it protects certain applicants and employees that are 40 years of age and older from discrimination. Such protection is covered in activities such as hiring, promotion, discharge, compensation, and terms of employment.

Then, both New York State human rights law and New York City human rights law apply to more employers than the ADEA. This is because these laws prohibit employers with four or more employees from making any employment decisions (i.e., hiring, promotion, discharge, compensation, and terms of employment) based on age. Of note, this protection even applies to employees who are younger than 40 years of age, along with independent contractors.

Is a prospective employer allowed to inquire about my age?

You must understand that federal and state laws do not prohibit a prospective employer to inquire about your age or date of birth. Though, the purpose behind inquiring must be lawful. In other words, they cannot ask about your age if they have a possible intent to discriminate against you based on your answer.

And even if a prospective employer proceeds with hiring you after learning about your age, they must not discriminate against you once you begin working for them. The same goes for your manager, co-workers, and clients. Examples of illegal age-based discrimination are as follows:

  • It is illegal for an employer to harass you with age-based jokes or comments.
  • It is illegal for a manager to harass you about receiving senior citizens’ discounts.
  • It is illegal for a manager to constantly assign you to senior citizen clients.
  • It is illegal for a co-worker to harass you by constantly referring to you as their “elder.”
  • It is illegal for a co-worker to place offensive, age-based cartoons or drawings in your workspace.
  • It is illegal for a client to harass you by making age-based gestures.

At the end of the day, you should not let a question regarding your age deter you from applying for a job you are interested in. Rather, you must remember that there are laws in place to protect you. So please do yourself the favor and retain the services of a skilled New York employee rights lawyer from Bell Law Group today.

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