House Passes Protect Older Job Applicants Act

WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the bipartisan H.R.3992, The Protect Older Job Applicants Act of 2021, introduced by Congresswoman Sylvia R. Garcia (TX-29) and co-led by Chairman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott. The bill will clarify that older job applicants can challenge disparate impact claims about discriminatory hiring practices under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). 

The bill will codify and clarify protections for older job applicants in the current Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) during the first opportunity—the hiring phase. 

“While Americans are working later in life than ever before, many older workers are finding that their experience can count against them when applying for new jobs. Unfortunately, recent court decisions have excluded older job applicants from challenging hiring practices that appear neutral, but, in fact, result in a disproportionate, harmful impact on older workers,” said Chairman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott.  “The Protect Older Job Applicants Act will help ensure that all older workers—regardless of whether they are looking for a job or already have one—are equally protected against age discrimination under the law.”

“As a former social worker and County Commissioner, I have witnessed older workers facing numerous hurdles when trying to switch jobs or rejoin the workforce. We are talking about real people with real struggles who are key contributors of society,” said Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia (TX-29). “The Protect Older Job Applicants Act (POJA) will make sure older workers are not left behind and end age discrimination in the hiring process. I am pleased to see that the House passed POJA to unlock opportunities for millions of people who are working to achieve their American dream.”  

H.R. 3992 –The Protect Older Job Applicants (POJA) Act will:

  • Clarify that older “applicants for employment” are also protected from age discrimination under the ADEA’s disparate impact provision.
  • Restore protections for older job applicants in the 7th and 11th Circuits by reversing Villarreal and Kleber, as well as prevent other circuits from adopting similar interpretations of the ADEA.
  • Align ADEA protections for job applicants with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  

The bill is also supported by the National Council on Aging, the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations, AARP, and the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE).

Age discrimination is pervasive and stubbornly entrenched. Older job applicants often face barriers during hiring when employers circumvent anti-age discrimination laws. The House passage of the Protect Older Job Applicants Act, which clarifies that older workers seeking a job should be protected from discrimination throughout the employment process, is an important step toward the goal of ensuring older adults’ ability to seek and obtain paid work,” said Katie Smith Sloan, chair, Leadership Council of Aging Organizations and president, CEO of LeadingAge, the association of nonprofit providers of aging services.

“AARP praises the passage of the Protect Older Job Applicants Act (POJA) (H.R. 3992). Older workers are valuable assets to their employers and the economy, and additional protections are needed to keep older workers connected to the workforce, especially as the country recovers from COVID-19. Age discrimination in the workplace – against older workers or others – is never acceptable. Americans age 55 and up experience long-term unemployment at a higher rate compared to younger job seekers and age discrimination makes it harder for older workers to find new jobs or return to the workforce. This bill to restore Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) protections to job applicants will help provide a level playing field for older workers when applying for a job,” said Nancy LeaMond, Executive Vice President of AARP.

“Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia should be applauded for her leadership and tenacity to secure today’s House passage of the Protect Older Job Applicants Act of 2021,” said Ramsey Alwin, President and CEO of the National Council on Aging. “It is time to treat age discrimination the same as every other unlawful bias in the workplace and faced by job applicants. We urge the Senate to pass Congresswoman Garcia’s legislation quickly to ensure older workers have equal access to employment opportunities as the economy recovers and into the future.” 


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