Age Discrimination in Employment Act
In 2014, Dale Kleber, an experienced attorney, applied for a senior counsel position with CareFusion Corporation, a healthcare company. The job posting for the position stated that applicant must have “3 to 7 years (no more than 7 years) of relevant legal experience.” Despite being otherwise well-qualified, Mr. Kleber was not selected for an interview, and the company eventually filled the position with a 29-year-old applicant. He filed an EEOC charge and subsequently, a federal lawsuit, against CareFusion, claiming that the company’s use of a hard cap for years of experience violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) because it had a disparate impact on qualified applicants over the age of 40. CareFusion claimed the lawsuit should be dismissed because the language of the disparate impact provision of the ADEA refers to “employees,” but not specifically to “applicants.” The Seventh Circuit denied CareFusion’s motion to dismiss the ADEA claim, finding that the ADEA language and overall legislative purpose of the ADEA were broad enough to cover Mr. Kleber’s claim. The disparate provision of the ADEA states that it is unlawful for an employer to “limit, segregate, or classify his employees in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect his status as an employee, because of such individual’s age.” Specifically, the court found that the maximum experience requirement in CareFusion’s job posting was a classification that that deprived or tended to deprive Mr. Kleber from having status as an employee at the company, because of his age. In light of this decision, school districts, as employers covered by the ADEA, should evaluate their hiring practices to determine if they will have a disparate impact on applicants over the age of 40. If such an adverse impact exists, the practice is only permissible under the ADEA if it is justified by a “reasonable factor other than age.” 26 C.F.R. 1625.7. Consult the board attorney for advice on specific practices.