This week the Maine Human Rights Commission (MHRC), in Augusta, unanimously found reasonable grounds to believe that Tambrands discriminated against an East Dixfield man, Allen Ackley, when it asked him questions during its hiring process that required him to reveal his age. Mr. Ackley reportedly applied for a plant technician job with Tambrands, which is a part of Procter & Gamble Co. During the hiring process, the company asked Mr. Ackley, who was 59 at the time, for the dates when he graduated from educational institutions and required him to complete a form that called for his date of birth.
The MHRC has established guidance, readily available on its website, which states that employers may not ask for this type of information, which reveals an applicant’s age, during the hiring process. The guidance, called a “Pre-Employment Inquiry Guide,” says that employers may ask applicants if they are under 18 years old but other than that, “questions about date of birth or age” are prohibited. Employers also may not ask for applicants’ “dates of graduation from educational institutions.” This guidance relates to a provision of the Maine Human Rights Act which states that employers may not “prior to employment…elicit or attempt to elicit information directly or indirectly pertaining to…age.”
There is no indication that Mr. Ackley went through an atypical hiring process at Tambrands. Consequently, Tambrands may routinely violate this portion of the Maine Human Rights Act when it screens applicants for hire. Now that the MHRC has found reasonable grounds to believe that Tambrands violated the Maine Human Rights Act, it will attempt to settle the dispute between Tambrands and Mr. Ackley through a process called conciliation. As part of that conciliation process, it is possible that the MHRC will request that Tambrands change its hiring process so that it conforms to the requirements of the Maine Human Rights Act.
The Maine Employee Rights Group has experience with age discrimination cases and is committed to holding employers accountable if they engage in age discrimination. Some employers discriminate against older workers because of unfounded assumptions about their motivation and adaptability to change, among other reasons. If you believe you have experienced age discrimination, please contact us and we can discuss whether your rights have been violated.