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Can external job applicants sue for age discrimination?

Many Connecticut residents and other individuals across the country routinely see promising job advertisements that spark their interest and invite a return application.

A recent national news piece notes that many of those placements do not specify minimum qualifications, but do set forth a cap on experience. For example: “This position is open only to applicants with less than a decade of relevant experience.”

Is that concerning? Is it even lawful?

The answer to that first query is that a stated ceiling on skills and qualifications is certainly an issue for select workers. In fact, it is alarming.

And, yes, specifying an experience cap just might circumvent applicable state and federal laws barring age discrimination in hiring practices.

Let’s go back to the above “decade of experience” limiting reference. That bullet point in an ad might mean nothing to a 25-year-old job seeker. Conversely, it might spell instant doom for someone aged 40 or above.

That latter age is the threshold number specified by the U.S. Congress in federal law prohibiting discrimination against older workers in employment practices. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act is the central tool invoked by groups like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission when they file lawsuits on behalf of 40-and-older workers.

Notwithstanding the enactment, though, there is no ringing clarity concerning precisely what types of cases the various federal court circuits will entertain. The above Chicago Tribune article notes, for example, that federal appellate tribunals are divided on how to handle discrimination claims alleged by external job applicants for a company’s posted position. Some courts will agree to rule on such a matter, while others will only consider narrower claims involving current or former workers.

The issue – like many employment law matters – is complex and case-specific. Questions or concerns regarding any job-linked challenge or dispute can be directed to a proven law firm that routinely handles employment law matters.

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