Lawyer’s Age Discrimination Suit Before 7th Circuit

By on October 4, 2018

October 4, 2018

Dale Kleber, 58, had many years of experience as a lawyer, including a stint as general counsel of Dean Foods. Nevertheless, he was having a hard time finding work. He came across an ad for a senior counsel position at a med tech company, and applied hoping to use his expertise in corporate transactions. He was never called in for an interview, and upon reflection, he realized the ad to which he responded provided a clue as to why. The position required “3 to 7 years (no more than 7 years) of relevant legal experience.” Kleber sued, alleging age discrimination. Recent litigation is highlighting subtle hiring practices that negatively impact older applicants through experience caps, or targeted job ads that only show up only in certain people’s social media feeds. In response to an initial charge Kleber filed with the EEOC, the company defended the experience cap “based on the reasonable concern that an individual with many more years of experience would not be satisfied with less complex duties or comfortable taking direction from an attorney with less experience which could lead to issues with retention.” A 29-year-old was hired for the position. A trial court dismissed Kleber’s claim, but it is now before the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. One issue is whether job applicants can pursue such lawsuits. There is a dispute about whether Congress intended the law to protect external job applicants, or only current or former employees.
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Chicago Tribune

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