I was furloughed by my company and later laid off. I asked my boss why and he said that he was given a list and my name was on it. I’m a young 60ish woman, but there were other employees in their 60s that were laid off, so it wasn’t age discrimination. Am I able to ask to see this list?
I’m so sorry for your job loss. Unfortunately, yours is not an unfamiliar story. Under most circumstances, employers are not required to provide an explanation when an individual is laid off. However, in companies of over 20 employees where there is a group layoff that impacts two or more employees aged 40 and over, there are age discrimination and older workers benefits legislation that apply. When those employees are offered severance benefits and asked to sign a release, the company must divulge details about the group, including age, title, function, etc. So, you could be entitled to see the list. If others over 40 were laid off, it doesn’t mean the company necessarily targeted employees by age — it could be another rationale for who was selected. And if you were the only person in your age group laid off, that in and of itself isn’t discrimination. My advice is to get an attorney who can advise you given the specifics of your situation.
Isn’t asking for my “age range” during the application process illegal? The company made it “optional,” but that question isn’t good, right?
No, it’s not good. The New York State Human Rights Law prohibits employers from asking applicants on application forms or in interviews any questions relating to the race, color, national origin, sex, age, disability, marital status or arrest records of the applicant. An employer may ask if you are 18 years of age or older to establish that you are not a minor, and an employer may ask if you are of legal age if there’s an occupational requirement, such as being at least 21 to work as a bartender. Additionally, employers can’t try to establish your age by asking when you graduated from high school or college. Besides, if you were some Doogie Howser genius, that would throw them off anyway.
Gregory Giangrande has over 25 years of experience as a chief human resources executive and is dedicated to helping New Yorkers get back to work. E-mail your questions to GoToGreg@NYPost.com. Follow Greg on Twitter: @greggiangrande and at GoToGreg.com.
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