What constitutes a case for age discrimination?

I’m 61, male, unemployed, and seeking a teaching position in Georgia. I’m certified to teach in GA, I have a Ph.D. When listening to my phone messages I noticed that the principal of a high school doesn’t hang-up after asking me to an interview (I didn’t reply yet). An unknown colleague of his then says, ” Wait a minute, have you seen when he graduated college? Nineteen seventy five, so how old does that make him?” The principal replies “About a hundred years old!” Hangs-up phone. Age discrimination?

Asked on July 14, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, Georgia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

The most important issue is: are you given the interview or not? And if so, do you do and what happened next--were you offered the job or not. If you are given the job, then there nothing to sue about: no harm. If you decline the interview and therefore are not given an opportunity to see if you'd get the job, there is also nothing to sue about--you took yourself out of the running. There only may be a case if you suffer some harm or loss (e.g. not getting a job) due to discrimination.

If you go through the process and do not get the job, then while it's not a guaranteed win, since there could still be neutral (non-discriminatory) reasons for them not offering you the job (e.g. another candidate with better experience), nonetheless, what you write would indicate a strong prima facie (on it's face) case for discrimination, since it is very likely that the expressed attitudes contributed to you not getting the job. In that case, you may well have a viable case for age discrimination and should either consult with an employment law attorney or contact your state's equal/civil rights agency (or the federal EEOC) to file a complaint.

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