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Asking How Much Longer 62-year-old Applicant Would Work Was Direct Evidence of Bias

November 07, 2016

A federal district court in Tennessee found direct evidence of age discrimination when, during the only meeting between the Applicant and the Employer, the Applicant’s age was referenced and the Employer asked how much longer the Applicant was going to work. Subsequent to that interview with the Applicant, the Employer interviewed an individual who was 42 years old. The Employer selected the 42-year-old and the Applicant sued for age discrimination under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The court concluded that the explicit reference to the Applicant’s age constituted direct evidence of age discrimination.

This finding was based on (1) the representative of the Employer that made the comment was the decision maker; and (2) the statement was made during their only personal meeting, in the context of a hiring discussion, during the time the Employer was seeking to fill the position. Although the Employer argued that the statement concerned retirement, not age, the court found that the statement was not some vague inquiry into retirement plans.