How Can You Prove Age Discrimination in Hiring
Like sexism and racism, it is extremely difficult to prove age discrimination against older workers in the workplace, and especially in the hiring process.
They are unlikely to admit that age is a factor
Very few employers will come right out and say that they’re not hiring you because you’re too old. And what are the odds you could prove they did so even if they were to be that honest? This is not to say that it’s impossible to win a court case involving age discrimination, but you’ll need to convince a judge or jury (or at least a pro bono attorney) not only that you were discriminated against, but that you are able to reasonably support your contention. When it comes to proving age discrimination in the hiring process, it may be nearly impossible without certain factors on your side.
You feel sure, but can you prove age discrimination?
Your powers of observation may have told you the likely outcome of the interview. But how do you prove age discrimination was the reason you weren’t hired? Suppose, for example, that you applied online, went through a phone interview, and were told that you were the top candidate for the job due to your experience and winning personality. Then you showed up at the office for a formal interview. The hiring agent got one look at you and realized you’ve been voting since before he was born. You knew immediately that you were out of the running. It showed in his eyes. You went through the motions of the interview, doing your best to impress, but you knew it was over the minute he saw the silver in your hair. Ouch.
Even being told the truth doesn’t help
Now further suppose that he felt bad about it and against his better judgment (and company policy) he called to let you know the reason that you weren’t hired. Armed with this information you walked yourself right into an attorney’s office to file a suit to prove age discrimination.
Here’s the problem.
Were you taping that phone call? No. Will the employee of the company testify on your behalf? Not likely. So where are you? Even though you know you were the most qualified candidate and you know that the company didn’t hire you because of your age, it’s your word against theirs. No lawyer will take this case. You have no real proof.
Look at the company’s history
Maybe you can show that a company has a long history of firing and failing to hire older candidates. Or perhaps you can convince someone at the business that rejected you to be a whistleblower (assuming you can find someone in the know that’s even willing to talk to you). But it’s a long shot, and it might not be enough to convince a judge or jury. To prove age discrimination you need to have genuine unambiguous proof and that is difficult to obtain.
You need to tell them the advantages you could bring to them
The best thing you can do is try to use your age to your advantage. Remind prospective employers that you have not only the knowledge, skills, and experience needed to do the job, but that you have far more wisdom and a calmer temperament than someone much younger.
You may have a harder time landing a job than a millenial, but you have a lot to offer the employer willing to look past your age and see what you bring to the table. The solution? You need to be prepared to tell them just how much you can contribute to their organization. This is not a time to be modest!
Are you an older worker searching for a job? Renovate your job search with a career coach, contact me at Career Reno.