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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit has issued a ruling that excludes job candidates from the protections created by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Although this court does not impact Tennessee, the decision reveals a weakness in the laws meant to protect people over 40 from age discrimination. The panel of judges believed that the law only applied to a company’s existing employees and not job candidates in regard to disparate impact.

The case involved a 58-year-old man who applied for a job at medical device maker. Although he was qualified for the legal position, he did not get an interview, and the company offered the job to a 29-year-old person who lacked the credentials of the older candidate. The man subsequently sued the company for allegedly rejecting him because of his age.

An employment law attorney commenting on the case called on Congress to amend the ADEA and install clear legal protections for job applicants. As the ruling stands, employers within the region of the 7th Circuit could conceivably discriminate against older job applicants. They could advertise positions as only open to younger workers and potentially create a hostile environment for their older existing employees.

Legal advice may benefit a person who suspects that workplace discrimination is happening. Legal representation might help a person avoid being ignored or even retaliated against. During a consultation with an attorney, a person may learn about the process of holding an employer responsible for discrimination based on gender, age, race, religion or disability. An attorney may request payroll records, written hiring procedures, employee evaluations and testimony from co-workers to build a case. During arbitration or litigation, an attorney might communicate how the employer violated the law and seek a financial settlement.