The EEOC just sued the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Office of Open Records for age discrimination. The agency allegedly refused to hire a well-qualified candidate who was over 40, graduated from law school with honors, and had 30 years of legal experience (which included 17 years with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commissions) for a vacant appeals officer position. Instead, the agency hired a significantly less experienced candidate who was 15 years younger than the rejected candidate. According to the EEOC’s press release, during the candidate’s second interview, the executive director of the agency expressed concern that the candidate would not have a long tenure since he had already worked for the commonwealth for 17 years and might be nearing retirement. As the EEOC explained: “Refusing to hire a qualified candidate based on speculation about his possible future retirement plans is illegal age discrimination, plain and simple.”
Let the Office of Open Record’s close mindedness be a lesson – age is a protected class, and comments about retirement and shortened tenure based on years on the job do not have any place in the interview process or the office (unless the office is hosting a retirement party).