Employers would be subject to additional requirements under bills at the national and state level that aim to protect older workers from age discrimination.
At the national level, the House of Representatives passed the bipartisan Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act (H.R. 1230) on Jan. 15 by a 261-155 vote.
The act, introduced in February 2019 by Reps. Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), would restore protections under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, giving workers aged more than 40 years the same legal protections against age discrimination as those that exist for discrimination based on race, sex, nationality and religion.
The act was first introduced after a 2009 Supreme Court decision (Gross v. FBL Financial Services, Inc.) made it more difficult for older workers to prove claims of illegal bias based on age, according to the AARP, which supports the legislation.
“It has now been more than a decade since the Supreme Court heightened the burden of proof for workers seeking to legally challenge age discrimination in the workplace,” Scott said. “However, our responsibility to ensure that no older American is forced out of a job or denied a work opportunity because of age has not changed. At a time when more Americans are working longer into their lives, we need policy solutions that empower older workers to challenge workplace discrimination.”
AARP Executive Vice President and Chief Advocacy and Engagement Officer Nancy LeaMond said, “The law must be strengthened because age discrimination is widespread, yet too often it goes unreported and unaddressed. AARP urges the Senate to take up and pass these important protections.”
In the Senate, the bipartisan companion legislation (S. 485) is sponsored by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Bob Casey (D-PA). Casey is the ranking member of the Senate Special Committee on Aging.
At the state level, a bipartisan group of Connecticut legislators on Thursday announced their support of a bill that would prohibit employers from asking the age, date of birth or graduation dates of job applicants, unless a particular age is a bona fide occupational qualification.
“No one should be vetted for a job based solely on their age,” state Sen. Derek Slap (D), said in a statement.
The bill, which will be formally introduced once the next session begins in February, is expected to closely follow the language of a similar bill, H.B. 6113, which was introduced by Slap last year. That bill, co-sponsored by 36 other legislators, passed the state Labor Committee in March but never was raised in the full House for a vote.