Age Discrimination to Require Applicant's Age?

Article Placeholder Image
By Jason Beahm on March 08, 2011 5:49 AM

Looking to stay out of hot water regarding age discrimination? Here's a tip, never ask for a person's specific age or Social Security number until after that person is hired.

That's what large retailers Target and The Home Depot have been doing lately, and it has retirement-age applicants crying age discrimination. Some of the older Americans looking for jobs have been claiming to be younger to get hired, reports the Huffington Post.

"This is a whole new wrinkle ... When you end up having to fill out information that can be used against you, you open the door to fall victim to age discrimination," said Kathy Masera, president of the California Job Journal, ABC News 10 reports. 

"An even bigger issue, to me, is that they're asking for Social Security numbers ... Many of these companies have had their systems breached - particularly in a retail environment where they're selling stuff online and they're prone to more hackers."

According to a number of recent articles, a number of stores including Home Depot, Kroger, and Target are asking applicants for their birth date on the application. Human resource experts say this is a significant mistake. 

If your business finds itself sued for age discrimination, the fact that you required birth dates on job applications will do you a major disservice.

Consider the age discrimination story of Ruth Lyons, 59, who was consistently turned away from jobs, which she believed was due to her age. "They're asking for your Social Security number and date of birth on applications now, which I don't think they have a right to do unless they're hiring you, and you don't have the option of not filling them in," Lyons told the Huffington Post.

Lyons later tested her theory by lying about her birth date. Low and behold, she quickly began obtaining interviews after years of rejection.

It's best for both your future employees and for your own bottom line if you make sure that your business avoids putting people like Lyons in such a predicament to begin with.

Related Resources: