From its inception, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) has generated debate concerning which individuals it actually covers. Some have argued that the law, which prohibits discrimination against people 40 years old and over, covers both people who are currently employed as well as people seeking employment, and others argue it protects only those who are currently working.
Recently, the 7th United States Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago weighed in with its opinion on the topic. According to the Court in an 8-4 decision, the plain language of the ADEA shows that Congress only intended the law to cover current employees.
The decision came as a result of a lawsuit filed by Dale Kleber, who asserted that a company he applied to work for—CareFusion—declined to interview him for an attorney position when he was 58-years-old and, instead, hired a 29-year-old, in part because the job description asked for someone with “no more than 7 years” of relevant experience.
Circuit Judge Michael Scudder, a President Trump appointee, wrote the majority opinion. He said that Congress was free to extend the protection of ADEA to job applicants, but the Court would not acknowledge existing protections until it did so. The dissent argued that protecting job applicants falls in line with the Supreme Court’s view of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.