2.4 million reasons not to intentionally avoid hiring older workers


I was going to title this one: “Sorry, I’m pretty sure that’s not how diversity, equity, and inclusion works.”

It’ll make sense in a second.

Back in 2017, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission caught wind that a senior vice president for human resources and diversity for a major pharmaceutical company recognized at a Leadership Town Hall that the company’s workforce was composed of older workers.

Okay, so?

According to the EEOC, the senior vice president then announced goals for “Early Career” hiring to add more millennials to the company’s workforce.

I’m not sure I like where this is going.

The EEOC further claimed that the company changed its hiring preferences and, over the next several years, intentionally under-hired older candidates for sales representative positions in favor of younger candidates based on their age.

It was all part of this Age Discrimination in Employment Act lawsuit that the EEOC initiated last year.

Recently, however, the case settled.

In this consent order, the employer agreed to pay $2.4 million into a fund that will be paid to eligible claimants. Confirmed claimants will also have the ability to reapply for jobs with the company. The company will also revise its existing equal employment opportunity policies to comport with all requirements of the ADEA, train its managers and supervisors, and revise all contracts or agreements entered into with third parties concerning recruiting, screening, or otherwise making hiring recommendations for specific positions with the organization that the company does not discriminate against candidates for employment based upon age.

Yes, the ADEA prohibits favoring younger workers over older ones based on age. (The employer still denies violating the law.)

Perhaps I should have titled this one: “WTF was HR thinking?”

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