John A. Klassen, PA Minnesota Employment Law Attorney
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Is pre-employment age discrimination prohibited?

Many older Minnesota workers may find themselves in the position of having to find a new job. Perhaps they were the victim of a layoff due to no fault of their own, or perhaps it was just time for a change in their career. Minnesota residents may already know that under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), workers who are 40 or older are protected from employment discrimination due to their age. However, age discrimination is not limited to just workers currently employed in the workplace. There are other circumstances, such as pre-employment, in which the ADEA applies.

First of all, in general, the ADEA applies to apprenticeship programs. Employers providing an apprenticeship program cannot engage in discriminatory acts based on an individual's age. This includes joint labor-management programs. That being said, the ADEA does provide for some very limited circumstances in which an apprenticeship program can have a valid age limitation.

Second, the ADEA applies to notices and advertisements for jobs. In general, it is illegal to include any sort of age specification, limit or preference in a notice or advertisement for a job. There is one narrow exception that is for a "bona fide occupational qualification," which is something that is reasonably necessary for the business to continue operating normally.

Third, the ADEA applies to pre-employment inquiries. Keep in mind that under the ADEA, employers are not specifically prohibited from inquiring about a potential employee's age. However, any such inquiries will be closely examined to determine that they have a lawful purpose, as they could have a chilling effect on older workers who may be deterred from applying for such jobs. If there is a lawful reason to know a worker's age, the employer can ask for this information after they hire the worker.

These are only three situations covered by the ADEA that are important to know about even before you are hired. The ADEA provides important protections to older workers, who deserve not to be discriminated against at work just because of their age.

Source: eeoc.gov, "Age Discrimination," accessed Sept. 2, 2016

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