One of the best ways to prevent age discrimination is also one of the simplest: Make your hiring process age-blind by removing age tipoffs from your application.
Don’t ask applicants to state their age or date of birth. Don’t ask for graduation dates either, as these can be used to estimate an applicant’s age.
And as an extra protective measure, have someone not involved in the hiring process review every application to make sure the applicant didn’t include any age-suggestive language to his résumé or any other hiring materials.
Recent case: Jason was 46 when he applied for a job as an actuarial analyst at Swiss Re, an insurance company.
There was no place on the online application for him to list his age, but Jason’s uploaded résumé did state that he had graduated with a master’s degree in statistics and economics from a French university in 1993.
In addition, Jason described himself in his cover letter as a “seasoned statistical analyst,” “mature” and a “mid-career professional.”
Jason wasn’t selected for the job and sued, alleging age discrimination.
The court said his case could go forward despite the company’s argument that it had no idea how old Jason’s was when he applied. The court disagreed and said Swiss Re could have made an educated guess as to Jason’s age, based on both his college graduation date and his cover letter.
Jason will still have to prove that someone younger was picked for the position and that he was clearly better qualified. (Ndremizara v. Swiss Re American Holding Company, No. 12-CV-05769, SD NY, 2014)
Final note: Showing you used an age-blind review can get cases tossed out faster.