If its illegal for an employer to ask an applicant about their age, is it legal for an employer to require you to show him or her your drivers license or other documentation with your birth year listed? I think this is a way of getting through the back door to learn your age and use it as a basis for rejection without proof of age discrimination.
Nancy Brent replies:
Title VII, a federal law, does prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of age. An employer cannot terminate, not promote or not hire, as examples, an employee solely on the basis of his or her age. Under the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act, anyone older than 40 also is protected when a job transition occurs by requiring a severance agreement to be in writing.
Title VII does not specifically prohibit an employer from asking about age, but if the question is asked, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission would carefully evaluate whether or not such a question was lawful meaning necessary to the job being applied for or if the question was used to screen out applicants of a certain age. The EEOC, however, suggests that if age is a lawful factor of a particular job, the applicants age can be asked about after he or she is hired. You can read more about age discrimination in employment by going to the EEOC website (www.eeoc.gov) and searching for age discrimination.
If you think the question was asked to discriminate against you because of your age, you can file a complaint with the local office of the EEOC. However, keep in mind you will need to provide clear facts about the interview, information of anyone else you know who also may have been asked this question and not hired, and other information. You will have to attest to the truthfulness of the information in the complaint, so be sure you are as certain as you can be that your age was the deciding factor in not being offered the position.