It is not age discrimination to consider long term potential in the hiring process

by on December 15, 2008 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: HR Info Center

You can consider long-term potential without violating Age Laws

When you make a hiring decision, you can take a job applicant’s long-term potential into account without committing age discrimination. That’s the good news from a recent Age Discrimination in Employment Act lawsuit from Arkansas.

The applicant who filed suit said he was improperly asked in his interview how long he intended to work for the company if he were hired. (In this case, it would have been a rehire.)

The applicant, who was 63, was passed over in favor of a 39 year old. He filed an age discrimination suit, claiming the interviewers betrayed their age bias by asking about his future and also by querying whether he could “grasp new processes” that had been put in place since he last worked there.

Not so, the court said. True, asking a candidate how long he expects to work is age-related. But you can ask questions that are indirectly linked to age without engaging in the kind of prohibited stereotyping of older workers that is barred by ADEA, the court said.

Succession planning
In this case, the company wanted somebody who could replace the 56-year-old HR director when he retired. Inquiring into the plans of a 63-year-old applicant who had left the company before – and who, by the way, said he didn’t want to be HR director – was appropriate, the court said.

So inquiring about a candidate’s long-term plans isn’t verboten. Don’t go any farther into age-related territory, though.

Cite: Lee v. Rheem Manufacturing Co., No. 05-1558, 8th Cir., 12/28/05

Leave a Reply


Request a Free Demo

We'd love to show you how this industry-leading training system can help you develop your team. Please fill out this quick form or give us a call at 877-792-2172 to schedule your one-on-one demo with a Rapid Learning Specialist.