Employee Rights Attorney

Mission Viejo, California

Q: “I am a contract recruiter working for a major aerospace company in California. At the time of writing this letter, I have been on assignment for 11 months. I am 40 years old with four years of experience in recruiting. Some of my experience came during my previous employment with the company that I am now contracting with. I also have a bachelor’s degree in human resources management.

“There is another contract recruiter who graduated from college in January 1995. Her contract started in March 1995 and she is 22 years old. She has no previous recruiting experience. Our job duties are essentially the same.

“There is a corporate directive that 10 percent of outside hires will be recent college graduates. If budget will allow another recruiter requisition it will be for an entry level position and they will hire the contract recruiter who is the recent college graduate to meet the corporate directive.

“Where does that leave me? I would like to be an employee and management knows that. Is this a form of discrimination since I am in the 40 70 age class?”

A: “It is illegal to discriminate on the basis of age. A policy by which an employer prefers hiring recent college graduates does not by itself prove age discrimination. Where there is a pattern in a certain selection process whereby younger people are preferred over those older, discrimination may be established.

“Further support for the discrimination is shown by the difference between your job experience. It certainly appears that you should be the preferred choice because of your background, if it were not for their discriminatory hiring practices.

“There may be an exception to the main rule, however. Even though affirmative action programs have been under attack recently, they still do exist. Aerospace companies very often are subject to affirmative action programs through government contracts. According to these programs, job performance may not be considered. It is possible that the program may include a hiring policy of recent college graduates on an equal opportunity basis. Consider contacting the employer for their justification for this program. Ask them if it is a requirement of their government contracts.

“You might also want to formally submit a letter and resume applying for any such potential job that might arise. Compare yourself with other potential candidates. Stress your superior job performance. In the alternative, understand their preferential hiring program.

“Even though it might sour relations between you and the employer, you might aggressively inform them that their program may be discriminatory. You may have claims for employment discrimination if you are, in fact, denied the job.”