In April 2018, the Seventh Circuit Court ruled in favor of a plaintiff in the case, Kleber v. CareFusion Corp., where a 58-year-old attorney claimed he was denied a chance to interview for an in-house legal position because of his age. The issue at hand was that the application specified three to seven years of experience. While it is not uncommon for a job to require minimum experience, Kleber claimed that setting a maximum year for experience was age discrimination. Brought into question in this case was a Supreme Court decision in Smith v. City of Jackson, where the Court ruled that the disparate impact theory could be applied to age discrimination.
What’s the disparate impact theory?
It is a theory used to prove employment discrimination based on the effect of an employment policy or practice, rather than the intent behind it. This means that seemingly neutral policies and practices can have a disproportionate adverse effect on members of a protected class, and are prohibited under employment discrimination laws.
Kleber claimed that based on this Supreme Court ruling, CareFusion was liable for unintentional age discrimination because its maximum experience requirement might screen out disproportionate numbers of older applicants for the job.
CareFusion, on the other hand, claimed that Smith v. City of Jackson only applied to current employees. Ultimately, the Seventh Circuit rejected the defendant’s claim.
Why did the Seventh Circuit make this decision?
The Seventh Circuit decided to discuss the issue in further proceedings, as the issue of age discrimination is very complicated, but in their ruling noted that:
- The Court found no reason that the ruling made in Smith v. City of Jackson would not apply to older individuals searching for work.
- The Court also considered the fact that Title VII covers applicants and noted that
perhaps Title VII should be expanded to cover age discrimination.
An example of seemingly neutral policies & practices that have an illegal disparate impact
- A strength requirement could screen out disproportionate numbers of female applicants for a job.
What action should I take as an applicant?
If you are an applicant who may be the victim of intentional or unintentional discrimination, review the job requirements and/or the interview that took place to determine that there was no other reason the job was not offered to you. If you were denied employment or the opportunity to interview for a position solely based on your race, color, religion, national origin, age, sex, physical or mental disability, pregnancy, citizenship, genetic information, familial status, or veteran status, contact us at 310-474-1582 for a free and confidential consultation.
What action should I take as an employee?
If you are a current employee who feels you are being intentionally or unintentionally discriminated against in the workplace based on your race, color, religion, national origin, age, sex, physical or mental disability, pregnancy, citizenship, genetic information, familial status, or veteran status, call us at 310-474-1582 for a free and confidential consultation.