An HR employee claimed that her age motivated her employer’s decision not to select her for a Human Resources Talent Consultant (HRTC) position after the company restructured the HR Department.
Why? Because decision-makers allegedly said on a conference call that they were looking for “fresh new blood” to fill the HRTC role.
Is that code for age discrimination?
No, it’s not, concluded the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. Indeed, the court noted that “courts generally reject the proposition that ‘new blood’ or equivalent phrases, standing alone, evince age discrimination.”
For example, there’s this one where the First Circuit concluded that “[new blood] is a profoundly ambiguous remark that is ‘much too innocuous to transform routine managerial decisions into something more invidious.'”
By way of further example, in this opinion, the Seventh Circuit also held that the term “new blood” in the abstract means a change and is not direct evidence of age discrimination.
And even though the plaintiff’s claims before the Third Circuit arose under New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination, which is pretty much the most employee-friendly anti-discrimination law in the United States, the court affirmed the lower court’s decision to dismiss the plaintiff’s age discrimination claims.
So, there you have it. The phrase “new blood” standing alone is agnostic to age discrimination.
The producers of “Dexter: New Blood” can sleep easier now.
On the other hand, filling competitive positions with predominantly younger candidates, ageist comments or both could evince age bias. So, don’t do that.