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Retailers Requiring Applicants Disclose Their Age

By Jason Beahm | Last updated on

As more and more Americans at or above retirement age continue to work, age discrimination is a growing concern. Despite age discrimination laws, many workers are concerned that employers will not want to hire them if they know how old they are.

Ruth Lyons, 59, went two and a half years without a job interview, before deciding to start listing her birthdate as 18 years earlier to see if it made a difference.

"They're asking for your Social Security number and date of birth on applications now, which I don't think they have a right to do," she told the Huffington Post. "You either fill them in right, or you lie, and I'm all for lying," Lyons added.

Upon further analysis, many of America's largest companies, including Target, Kroger, Home Depot and many more require all job applicants to disclose their date of birth. Age discrimination lawyers say that's not a wise move.

"It's not per se discrimination to ask for your date of birth or age or some other age-identifying information on a job application, but .... we're going to closely scrutinize what we see on the form," said Ray Peeler, a senior attorney at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

"I am stunned to hear that they're asking for people's ages in applications ... They should know better. As an employer, you do not want to put yourself in a position where anything you do could be conceivably discriminatory," Susan Heathfield, a human resources expert told the Huffington Post.

What to do with potential age discrimination law violations is a tough call. Lying on your application is an option, so is leaving it blank or putting in all zeros. Of course lying could have repercussions if the company later finds out. 

Ultimately, Lyons thinks that lying about her age helped her land a job. She didn't get a job until she filled out an application with a fake birthday. "It may be a fluke, but it worked for me!" Lyons said.

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