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Age discrimination may be more common than many think

Applying for a new job can be stressful. The list of questions on an application can be extensive, and submitting a resume can be an overwhelming process. Yet, when Californians apply for a position, they expect to be judged based on their education and experience. While many employers adhere to this standard, others base their decisions in ways that are discriminatory in nature. While most are familiar with sex and race discrimination, another type of workplace discrimination seems to be becoming more common: age discrimination.

A recent study conducted by a professor at the University of California, Irvine, found that the rate of callbacks drops significantly as applicants age. This was discovered after sending out 40,000 identical resumes to real jobs. The only difference between the resumes? The applicant's age. The applicants were divided into a younger group, a middle-aged group, and an older group. The study found that the callback rate decreased 25 percent when comparing the younger group to the middle-aged group, and another 25 percent when comparing the middle-aged group to the older group, which consisted of those around the age of 65.

Blatant age discrimination is illegal, and those who believe they have been mistreated based on their age can take legal action. For example, one man filed a lawsuit against R.J. Reynolds, a tobacco company, after it allegedly hired only 19 people age 40 or older in its pursuit to hire 1,000 sales representatives. When hiring, the company explicitly stated that it was looking for recent college graduates and expressed that those with eight to 10 years of experience should not apply. Others have tried to join the lawsuit but have been unsuccessful in doing so up to this point. The case made its way to a federal court of appeals, where the court ruled in favor of the applicants. It is unknown if the case will go before the Supreme Court.

However, employers need to follow the law with regard to their employment practices. When they fail to do so, they need to be held accountable. Those who believe they have been unfairly treated by their current employer, or a potential one, may want to consider taking legal action.

Source: NPR, "Too Much Experience To Be Hired? Some Older Americans Face Age Bias," Ina Jaffe, March 24, 2017