House

House passes bill to prohibit age discrimination against job applicants

The Capitol is seen from the East Front Plaza on Thursday, October 28, 2021.
Julia Nikhinson

The House passed legislation on Thursday that would prohibit employers from discriminating against job applicants because of their age.

Lawmakers passed the bill 224-200, with seven Republicans joining with all Democrats in support.

The legislation would specifically expand the 1967 law prohibiting age discrimination in the workplace to allow older job applicants to bring claims of disparate impact discrimination against employers.

Proponents of the measure argued that the need to clarify the existing law became particularly apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic as job applicants age 50 or older who were laid off from their jobs reported difficulties finding new employment, such as encountering an online job application with a drop-down menu that didn’t list their birth year as an option.

“This bill will help people trying  to recover from this pandemic, including people who lost their job in the middle of their career who now fear they will never work again because of discriminatory hiring practices,” said Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-Texas), the bill’s author.

“It is just a simple clarification bill. It clarifies that job protections for older Americans begin at the time of the application,” Garcia said.

Republicans, meanwhile, warned that the measure would only lead to more lawsuits and argued that existing law already provides older people with protections.

“Older workers are faring well in the workforce without the help from us in Congress, and they don’t need a trial lawyer payoff — disguised as a win for older workers — that will threaten routine hiring practices, limit job opportunities, and create a tsunami of parasitic litigation,” said Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.), a member of the House Education and Labor Committee.

Before final passage, the House voted 225-201 to adopt an amendment from Reps. Chris Pappas (D-N.H.) and Marie Newman (D-Ill.) that would require the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to conduct a study on the number of job applicants impacted by age discrimination and issue recommendations on how to address it.

Thursday’s vote comes after the House has passed other bills in recent weeks to enhance worker protections for other vulnerable groups.

Last month, the House passed legislation that would expand the number of workers covered by federal protections ensuring that nursing mothers have accommodations to pump breast milk.

Tags Chris Pappas Sylvia Garcia

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