Warning to Job Search Engines About Age Discrimination in Hiring

madigan-lisa Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has warned six national career and job search companies that some of their search functions could violate state and federal age discrimination laws.

In a press release Thursday, Madigan announced she has sent letters seeking information about company practices from  Chicago-based CareerBuilder, Indeed, Beyond.com, Ladders, Inc., Monster Worldwide Inc. and Vault.

Madigan expressed concern about practices that appear to prevent older workers from creating accurate resumes and profiles when searching for new careers and submitting information to potential employers.

In particular, she focused upon sites that require job seekers to input dates of previous work experience and education but only allow those born after a certain year to do so. For example, one company provided 1980 as the earliest possible choice for users’ education or previous employment start dates.  Users over the age of 52 were unable to complete accurate profiles to apply for available positions.

Madigan’s Civil Rights Bureau is examining these practices.

It’s no secret that internet job search engines for years have quietly used software to divert applications by older workers into a digital trash can.

The problem of discriminatory practices by job search engines vividly came to light in a 2012 lawsuit filed against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. by Richard M. Villarreal, who at age 49 submitted the first of several  unsuccessful internet job applications to Reynolds. Villarreal filed an age discrimination lawsuit after learning that Reynolds  had contracted with two recruiting firms to develop internet screening tools to screen out applicants having eight to ten years of experience. CareerBuilder.com was a defendant in that case.

The Villarreal case ultimately was gutted by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta, which ruled that job applicants cannot sue employers under the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) for promulgating policies and practices that discriminate in hiring on the basis of age. The appeals court said the ADEA does not cover job applicants, only employees.

Since then, a federal judge in San Francisco ruled in the case of Rabin v. PriceWaterhouseCoopers that the ADEA does permit so-called disparate impact lawsuits on behalf of job applicants.

Madigan cites both the ADEA and the Illinois Human Rights Act.

“Today’s workforce includes many people working in their 70’s and 80’s,” Madigan said in the release. “Barring older people from commonly used job-search sites because of their age is discriminatory and negatively impacts our economy.”

Systemic Age Discrimination in Hiring Ignored, Overlooked

Several states are acting to ban employers from discriminating against job applicants on the basis of prior criminal records and lack of credit worthiness.

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was also a national movement to bar employers from discriminating  against job applicants whose only “crime” is that they are aged 40 and above?

Technically, it’s already illegal for employers to discriminate on the basis of age but the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 is widely ignored when it comes to hiring. Legions of older workers talk about sending out dozens – even hundreds – of resumes and receiving no response. Why? Employers and staffing agencies use internet resume review screening tools to weed out older workers.

The evidence of systemic age discrimination in hiring was overwhelming in a lawsuit filed by job applicant Richard Villarreal. In 2007, at the age of computer49, Villarreal began submitting online applications to work as a territory  manager for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco.  A total of six applications filed by Villarreal were rejected in favor of younger, less experienced applicants.  Villarreal learned in 2010 that Reynolds, in combination with outside staffing agencies,  was using “resume review guidelines” to week out applications from older applicants. 

The guidelines told recruiters to target candidates who are “2–3 YEARS OUT OF COLLEGE” and to “STAY AWAY FROM” candidates with “8–10 YEARS” of prior sales experience.

Reynolds hired  1,024 people as Territory Managers from September 2007 to July 2010 but only 19 or 1.85 percent were over the age of 40 as a result of the resume screening process. Continue reading “Systemic Age Discrimination in Hiring Ignored, Overlooked”

Older Women Struggle in the Workplace

There is considerable evidence that older women face unique struggles in the workplace.

  • Older women appear to experience among the highest rates of workplace bullying.
  • Older women have the highest wage gap when compared to both men and women as a group.
  • The number of age discrimination complaints filed by older women with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has skyrocketed in recent years, raising questions about whether older women are being excluded from participation in the “new” economy.

One of the biggest problems facing older women is hiring discrimination, which involves both sex and age discrimination. This is particularly obvious in the high-tech sector. Google, for example, admitted in 2014 that women comprised only 30 percent of its workplace but the company was strangely silent about the age of its employees.  A class action lawsuit  earlier this year accused Google of gross age discrimination in hiring.

It seemswomen in the workplace obvious that older women are more adversely affected by the discriminatory hiring practices of America’s high tech industries.

Meanwhile,there has been a tremendous spike in age discrimination lawsuits filed by women in recent years. Cathy Vontrell-Monsees, senior counsel for the EEOC, told the National Press Foundation earlier this year that the percentage of age discrimination cases filed by women jumped from 32 percent in 2007 to 45 percent in 2013.

It should be noted that in the early years of the ADEA, which was passed in 1967, most workers who filed age discrimination lawsuits were white, male, middle managers or professionals over the age of 50. Only about 14 percent of claimants were women. Researchers theorized that female workers were less likely to file an ADEA lawsuit because they had lower wages and didn’t stand to gain as much. The increase in age discrimination complaints filed by women may also say something about how older men are faring in the workplace. Continue reading “Older Women Struggle in the Workplace”