As the Connecticut Workforce Ages, Age Discrimination Law Must Evolve

Jan 17 2020

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, by 2024, nearly 1 in 4 people in the labor force will be age 55 or older. The median age of Baby Boomers, after all, is 56 years old, and many of them are postponing retirement after the Great Recession of the last decade.  With Connecticut having the sixth-oldest workforce, Connecticut employment law must adjust to these shifting workforce demographics on age discrimination.

Fortunately for older employees, bipartisan support has emerged for a new legislative proposal.  This bill would prohibit employers from requiring prospective employees to list their age, birth date, or graduation year on any job application, except when necessary.

At present, under Connecticut age discrimination laws:

  • Employers, including employment agencies and labor organizations, are prohibited from discharging or refusing to hire someone because of his or her age. This also prohibits discrimination against an employee in compensation or in terms, conditions, or privileges of employment because of age.
  • However, it is not illegal discrimination to base employment decisions on “a bona fide occupational qualification or need.”

Other Connecticut employment discrimination laws have changed in recent years, too, including prohibiting employers from asking about criminal history and pay history. The latter bill was intended to help women, who historically earn less than men. But that law could also benefit older workers who may once have held high-paying managerial roles but now are seeking lower-paying, non-managerial roles.

What would the new bill do to help stop age discrimination?

According to the AARP, the two fastest-growing groups in the U.S. labor pool are people over age 75 and people age 65 to 74.

While this bill is not designed to guarantee older employees will be hired, it allows them to get into the application process and get their fair chance at the job. This is increasingly important as a 2018 AARP survey of workers age 45 and older found 61% had either experienced or seen age discrimination in the workplace.

While this bill is expected to be discussed next month, employees currently facing age discrimination should know how to spot discrimination and seek advice.

Common signs of age discrimination include:

  • You were passed over for a promotion or simply not hired while the position was given to a younger applicant with fewer or inferior qualifications.
  • You face inappropriate jokes or comments by your co-workers or supervisors.
  • You are left out of work-related activities or team-building events.
  • Duties that were previously yours are given to younger employees based on the assumption you plan to retire soon.
  • Though you complete your work or exceed expectations, you are given negative employee reviews.

Does this seem all too familiar to you? Contact a trusted Connecticut employment attorney about your situation. Contact the employment discrimination lawyers at Garrison, Levin-Epstein, Fitzgerald & Pirrotti, P.C., today for an evaluation.

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