Human Resource Management

HRM Guide World HRM Guide USA HRM Guide UK About HRM Guide Student HRM Jobs/Careers HR Updates Facebook
Search all of HRM Guide

Large employee search firm illegally screened job candidates based on age

26 March 2001 - The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission substantiated a charge filed by AARP that Spencer Stuart, a large employee search firm, illegally screened job candidates on the basis of age. Spencer Stuart was accused by AARP in October, 1998 with routinely violating the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) through the practice of limiting search for suitable job candidates on the basis of the age-based preferences of its clients and disclosing age information to clients during candidates presentations.

EEOC New York District Director Spencer H. Lewis, Jr. issued a "Determination" (final decision) memorandum to AARP and Spencer Stuart on March 15, stating that the search firm has "regularly continued to provide the ages of candidates either verbally or in writing to select clients" - a practice illegal under the ADEA."

"Age discrimination in hiring is one of the most critical problems facing older workers," said Laurie McCann, a senior attorney with AARP Foundation Litigation. "It is essential that gatekeepers to employment, including employment agencies and search firms such as Spencer Stuart, accept, refer and place candidates in a fair and nondiscriminatory manner," McCann said.

The EEOC's final decision triggers - under the ADEA - a period of informal conciliation during which the commission, Spencer Stuart and AARP will seek to reach a settlement on the charges. Failure to reach such a settlement could lead to court action by EEOC and /or AARP.

The ADEA, enacted in 1967, is the primary federal law prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of age for persons 40 and older. Over 45% of the AARP membership is employed - and most of these people are protected by the ADEA.

AARP's charge emanated from allegations filed with the EEOC by two former employees of Spencer Stuart that the company engaged in systemic violations of civil rights laws, including prohibitions against age discrimination.

AARP's charge stated that the company's discriminatory practices in its US offices took a number of forms:

- entering age information into a computer database
- including the age in candidate presentation packages to the client, or
- orally relaying such information to clients.

In its Determination memo last week, EEOC said that AARP's claim was supported by a January,1995 widely-circulated memorandum in which Spencer Stuart's then chief financial officer wrote:

"Over the past six months, we have had numerous questions raised as to the exposure created by referencing age (birth date) and marital status in candidate reports. We have concluded, after having sought advice from outside counsel, that we are principally creating a legal exposure for our clients by including this information in reports that end up in their personnel files. Therefore, in order to protect our clients (and, to a lesser degree, ourselves) we should not include age (birth date) in candidate reports. The best approach (for our clients) is to provide this information verbally so that their permanent records do not contain this information...If the client wants this information provided in the cover, we should comply with their wishes...Please keep in mind that asking for age or marital/parental status does create a legal exposure. Be very careful about how you obtain this information..."

The Determination stated: "Based on our investigation, EEOC has determined that there is reasonable cause to believe that the Respondent has violated the ADEA in that it provides ages of candidates to prospective employers for a discriminatory purpose...This determination is final."

The EEOC statement said that, even after that memo was circulated, Spencer Stuart regularly forwarded the ages of candidates - either verbally or in writing - to select clients.

More Diversity Articles


PHR / SPHR Professional in Human Resources Certification Kit
by Sandra M Reed and James J. Galluzzo III

Must-have preparation for those looking to take the PHR or SPHR certification exams in order to strengthen their resume.

PHR Study Guide 2020-2021: PHR Certification Preparation and Practice Test Prep Questions for the Professional in Human Resources Exam

Essential HR

The Essential HR Handbook, 10th Anniversary Edition: A Quick and Handy Resource for Any Manager or HR Professional
  This fully updated 10th anniversary edition is packed with information, tools, checklists, sample forms, and timely tips to guide you through the maze of personnel issues in today's complex business environment.

Successful Onboarding

Successful Onboarding: Strategies to Unlock Hidden Value Within Your Organization Mark Stein and Lilith Christiansen
  Fact: 1/3rd of all external hires are no longer with the organization after 2 years. What can you do about it? In a word: onboarding.
  More information and prices from: - US dollars - Canadian dollars - British pounds - Euros - Euros

The HR Answer Book

The HR Answer Book: An Indispensable Guide for Managers and Human Resources Professionals by Shawn A. Smith, Rebecca A. Mazin
  The HR Answer Book addresses 200 questions that every employer needs to deal with. Accessible and concise on-the-job companion.
  More information and prices from: - US dollars - Cdn dollars - UK pounds - Euros - Euros

HRM Guide makes minimal use of cookies, including some placed to facilitate features such as Google Search. By continuing to use the site you are agreeing to the use of cookies. Learn more here

HR Directory
Privacy Policy

Anything But Work
British Isles
City Visit Guide
Job Skills
Copyright © 1997-2021 Alan Price and HRM Guide contributors. All rights reserved.