The EEOC Ignored Precedent in Dismissing Two Age Discrimination Cases

The EEOC ignored legal precedent in August when it dismissed two age discrimination cases where older job applicants were rejected in favor of  far less qualified applicants under the age of 40.

A search of precedential case law on the EEOC ‘s own web site  revealed a federal appeals court decision holding that an employer’s failure to hire a candidate who is significantly better qualified for the job raises a question of illegal discrimination.

This precedent was not followed by Carlton M. Hadden, Jr., director of the EEOC’s appellate unit, who dismissed two age discrimination complaints in August.  The cases were filed by a female attorney, 60, and a white police detective, 48, who were not hired despite having substantially more objective qualifications than selectees under the age of 40. The EEOC upheld Hadden’s rulings. In the attorney’s case, the hiring officer testified he ignored objective qualifications entirely and based his hiring decisions on cultural fit.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 2006 cited a U.S. Supreme Court decision holding that “qualifications evidence may suffice, at least in some circumstances,” to show that an employer’s proffered explanation is pretext for discrimination. Ash v. Tyson Foods, Inc., 546 U.S. 454, 457, 126 S.Ct. 1195, 163 L.Ed.2d 1053 (2006).

Memo to EEOC: There is an inference of discrimination when when a plaintiff is “significantly better qualified” than the candidate who was hired.

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An interesting societal shift seems to have pushed age (70 and above) into the undesirable position of  the most negative characteristic for a political candidate.

A Pew Research Center poll last year found that 55 percent of Americans said it would make no difference to them if the candidate was in his or her 70s. But 66 percent of Americans  said it would make no difference to them if a candidate was gay or lesbian and 71 percent  said it would make no difference if the candidate were female.  Thus, it  makes more difference to the public if candidates are in their 70s than if they are gay or lesbian or female.

At the same time, 36 percent of those polled said it was less likely that they would support a candidate in their 70s, compared to 27 percent who would be less likely to support candidates who are gay or lesbian and nine percent who are less likely to support female candidates.  So more Americans – of all ages – are less willing to vote for politicians in their 70s than they are for gay and lesbian and female candidates. Continue reading “AGE TAKES THE LEAD AS A NEGATIVE IN POLITICS”