Kokua Line
June Watanabe

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Employers not prohibited
from asking birthday

Question: I recently saw an article in your column regarding federal employment and applied for a clerk position with the Army. To my surprise, I was required to provide a birth date on their electronic resume builder or my application could not be processed. The position advertised was not enforcement, safety, or age-related, so why are the feds allowed to ask birth date data while we in the private sector are not allowed?

Answer: Under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, it is unlawful to discriminate against a person because of his or her age, with the exception of "the rare circumstance" that age can be shown to be a "bona fide occupational qualification."

However, the law does not specifically prohibit employers from asking for an applicant's age or birth date, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

In an explanation of the act on its Web site -- www.eeoc.gov/facts/age.html -- the commission says that, "because such inquiries may deter older workers from applying for employment or may otherwise indicate possible intent to discriminate based on age, requests for age information will be closely scrutinized to make sure that the inquiry was made for a lawful purpose, rather than for a purpose prohibited by the ADEA."

The law applies to employers with 20 or more employees, including federal, state and local governments, as well as to employment agencies and labor organizations.

Since you applied for a federal job, you are advised to go through the Federal Sector Equal Employment Opportunity Complaint Processing.

Basically, that means filing a complaint with the agency in question by contacting the equal employment opportunity counselor at the agency.

If your complaint is about being asked for a birth date by a non-federal agency or private employer, you are advised to file a complaint with either the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission, said Raymond Griffin, an investigator with the local EEOC office.

(You can reach the state commission by calling 586-8636; e-mailing info@hicrc.org; or checking its Web site, www.hawaii.gov/hcrc/.)

Complaints have to be filed within specific time frames.

Griffin said you can reach the local EEOC office by calling 541-3120 or by going to the Federal Building, 300 Ala Moana, Room 7127.

Q: Work is being done on Hawaii Kai Drive near Kamehame Drive. Workers say they don't know what the project is. What is this mystery project?

A: The parcel at Hawaii Kai Drive and Maunanani Street is zoned for nine homes. Work is under way on two two-story single-family homes, according to minutes of Hawaii Kai Neighborhood Board meetings and city building permit records.

The developer is AY Investments Inc. The development is referred to as Kamehame Ridge units.


See the Columnists section for some past articles.

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