Julie Kushner

State Senator

Julie Kushner

Deputy President Pro Tempore

Working Together for Progress

January 16, 2020

Sen. Kushner, CT Legislators Give Bipartisan Support to Bill to Protect Older Job Applicants From Age Discrimination

HARTFORD – State Senator Julie Kushner (D-Danbury) and a bipartisan group of legislators and advocates today announced their support for a bill that prohibits employers from asking the age, date of birth, or graduation dates of job applicants, unless a particular age is a bona fide occupational qualification.

With 436,000 workers in their mid-50’s, Connecticut has the 6th-oldest workforce in the nation, with a median age of 41 (as of 2017.) Just 20% of Connecticut employees were over the age 54 in 2008; today that figure is 26.5%, with the health care, manufacturing, educational services and retail trade industries employing the most workers over age 54.

A 2018 AARP survey found about 60% of older workers have seen or experienced age discrimination in the workplace, and 76% of them see age discrimination as a hurdle to finding a new job. Meanwhile, nearly a third of U.S. households headed by someone age 55 or older have no retirement savings or pension, meaning they’ll have to continue working or rely on Social Security in order to survive financially.

“Today, no one walks into a business and asks for a job application. Everything is done online,” said Senator Kushner, who is Senate chair of the Labor and Public Employees Committee. “Today we’re announcing our intention to make a real difference for older workers in Connecticut. They should be evaluated on the merits of their skills and experience. When an employer does that, Connecticut businesses are going to find a wealth of talent in the pool of older applicants. To rule someone out simply because of their age is not only wrong, it’s also bad for businesses.”

“According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, older workers will make up the fastest-growing segment of the workforce from 2014 to 2024,” said Nora L. Duncan, State Director for the AARP of Connecticut. “While age discrimination is illegal, we live in a society where age seems to be the last acceptable bias. Whether it’s intentional or not, knowing someone’s age can create bias that keeps a qualified job applicant from getting a fair chance at being considered for a position. This legislation reduces that risk and levels the playing field.”

“Mature workers are the backbone of the modern-day workforce, providing skills, leadership and deep professional networks,” said Tom Long, Senior Vice President of Communications and Development for The WorkPlace in Bridgeport, which seeks to develop a well-educated and well-trained workforce to compete in today’s global marketplace. “Age does not define ability, and it is essential for employers to provide an opportunity for job candidates to demonstrate that their experience is an asset.”

“Age discrimination is real, and this legislation accomplishes many good things. I’ve been advocating for this for years,” said state Rep. Mitch Bolinsky (R-Newtown). “First, it gets older workers in the door, considered, and interviewed on the strength of their work, not the date on their resume. Second, it’s important to know that it doesn’t mandate employers to do anything they don’t already do when considering their best-fit, new employees. In fact, it may help them meet some of the hardest-working, dedicated employees out there. Third, there’s a lot of current conversation about enriching Connecticut’s talent pool. Fact is, there is a wealth of talent in our state’s older workers, and this simple bill will showcase that.”

The bill, which will be formally introduced once session begins in February, will closely the follow the language of a similar bill introduced last year, House Bill 6113. That bill noted that, “except in the case of a bona fide occupational qualification or need,” employers are not allowed to “request or require a prospective employee’s age, date of birth or date of graduation from an educational institution on an initial employment application.”

Last year’s bill passed the Labor Committee in March but was never raised in the House for a vote.