Age discrimination is a real issue with many workers. You might be young and just starting out on the career path, or nearing retirement age when searching for a job. Unfortunately, age sometimes is the primary reason a qualified job candidate does not get hired.
Federal and (virtually all) state laws prohibit age discrimination, which raises the question regarding the lawfulness of asking for dates of birth on employment applications. The potential for age discrimination makes it important to know your rights when asked for your date of birth by a prospective employer.
Pennsylvania Law Bans Asking for Dates of Birth
If your prospective employer is based in Pennsylvania, state law prohibits asking for an applicant’s date of birth. The Pennsylvania Human Resources Commission (PHRC) clearly says: “Inquiries regarding the applicant’s date of birth or age are unlawful.”
The PHRC says that it is reasonable to assume that any answers given on a pre-employment application or pre-screening form are used to make a hiring decision. So it would be reasonable to assume that asking for your date of birth on a job application is to obtain information that would be used in the hiring decision.
Since it is unlawful to discriminate based on age, the state does not allow employers to ask for birthdates on employment applications. The job provider’s human resources department might ask for other reasons on a separate form, though.
Employment Background Checks Often Require Birthdates
Many employers conduct background checks that do more than look at your work and education history. The background checks often include criminal records and credit reports.
The background checks typically require your date of birth and a social security number. That helps to ensure your records are the correct ones and not those of another person who happens to have the same name.
A human resources department can obtain the necessary information with your permission and after explaining why the information is needed. The process is separate from the job application and subsequent interviews that might occur.
The human resources department does not share your date of birth with those making the hiring decisions and obtained your permission to conduct background checks. That makes it legal at the state and federal levels.
How to Report Employer Violations?
The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces federal employment laws. Pennsylvania’s PHRC likewise enforces state employment laws.
If you think you were discriminated against based on age or for any other reason, you can file a complaint with the EEOC and the PHRC. The EEOC complaint would have to be for violations of federal employment laws, which would not include asking for your date of birth on a job application.
The PHRC complaint would have to be for violations of Pennsylvania employment laws, which could include asking for your date of birth on a job application.
When you complain to the EEOC, it will investigate and determine whether or not your complaint has merit. If the EEOC says it does, you could proceed with a federal lawsuit for age discrimination and other causes of action.
The PHRC also might determine that your rights were violated. If so, you could proceed with a state-level lawsuit against the offending employer.
You would have to show that you were qualified for the position. You also would have to show that the position went to someone much less qualified and who is much younger than you.
An experienced employment attorney can help you to gather the evidence needed to file a successful complaint for violations of state or federal employment laws.
Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green Help to Enforce Your Rights
Our experienced Philadelphia employment lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green can help you to uphold your rights. You can call 215-574-0600 or contact us online to schedule an initial consultation at our Philadelphia law office. We represent clients in South Jersey and throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.