Retirement & Financial Planning Report

The House has passed HR-3992, to expand protections against age discrimination in hiring by federal agencies and other employers covered by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act to reinforce protections for job applicants under that law.

The bill would specify that the law’s ban on actions that have a “disparate impact” based on age—those that are facially neutral with regard to age but have the effect of harming older workers more than younger workers—applies to job applicants as well as to incumbent employees.

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That has been the EEOC’s long-standing interpretation of the law, sponsors said, but that had been called into question in several recent federal court rulings.

The action follows passage in June of a bill (HR-2062) to clarify that protections apply to claims alleging that age discrimination was a motivating factor for an adverse decisions, even though other factors may have been involved—so-called “mixed motive” claims. That bill also would lower the evidence standards that age discrimination complainants must meet.

However, the top Republican on the House Education and Labor Committee, Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., said the measure would effectively pit generations against each other in the job market. “This bill does far more harm than good and is a very bad solution in search of a problem. HR-3992 was bad in theory and it will be even worse in practice,” she said in a statement.

“Trial lawyers are sure to have a field day with this bill, which will give them cause to go after everything from job fairs on college campuses and online job boards to apprenticeship and internship programs. This could significantly hinder Americans’ ability to become prepared for the workforce as well as their ability to find work,” she said.

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