A recent U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruling dealt a blow to older job seekers, a cohort that often sees discrimination in labor practices. The ruling restricts age bias claims under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) to those already employed, leaving the thousands of older American job seekers without recourse for potential discrimination.

With a growing number of Americans working well past the traditional retirement age, this ruling allows hiring authorities to dismiss older applicants who may be searching for a job because they experienced age discrimination leading to their job separation in the first place, according to one workplace authority.

“This ruling further hurts older workers who may have experienced age discrimination in the workplace that resulted in a forced retirement or layoff. They now have to contend with a job market that further obstructs their job search efforts,” said Andrew Challenger, Vice President of global outplacement and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

In 2017 alone, over 18,000 complaints were filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) under the ADEA. An analysis of data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) by ProPublica and the Urban Institute found that of respondents with otherwise stable, long-term job situations, 56 percent left jobs at least once under financially damaging circumstances after turning 50 and before leaving for retirement, indicating forced exits rather than voluntary ones.

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