Is It Age Discrimination?


A reader (Dolores) sent me an email message.

Dolores went on a series of interviews and everything seemed to go well. The HR chick who managed the process implied that they company needed to make a hiring decision right away. The HR chick also said that there was a different job in the office that might be a good fit for Dolores, too.

Dolores was feeling pretty good until a few weeks passed.

The HR chick vanished. Phone calls and messages into the company went unreturned.

Dolores insists she’s perfect for both jobs. She asks, “Could it be my age? I’m almost sixty.”

Now listen, sure, it could be your age. It could be that you’re ugly, too. Or fat. Or disabled. Or short. Or too tall. Maybe you’re a smoker. Maybe you remind the HR chick of her mother.

Or it could be that the HR chick had it all wrong: the company didn’t need to make a hiring decision right away, there were other qualified candidates waiting in the wings, and there wasn’t a different job. The HR chick may have been mistaken and there wasn’t another vacancy within the organization.

Age discrimination happens but incompetence happens more. In most incidences, candidates are ignored because HR departments are overwhelmed and hiring managers really hate recruiting.

You don’t want to be the kind of candidate who assumes your rejection is some form of illegal discrimination. While it might be ageism, the real explanation might be less insidious. The company seems to have a recruiting process that doesn’t work properly and good candidates are left in the cold.

Either way, they sent you a clear message about your interview. It didn’t work out and it’s time to move on.

Now what, Dolores? Keep us posted!

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