Commissioner Kevin Lindsey of the Minnesota Department of Human Rights offered the following advice to older workers and job seekers.
Social media: Be mindful that an increasing number of employers check how employees and applicants depict themselves on social media (Lindsey said this applies to all protected classes, not just older workers). Employers need to be consistent in this practice and should make sure it relates to essential job functions.
Job discrimination: If you suspect discrimination, get a copy of the job description. In one case, a job candidate in his mid-50s lost out when an employer was requiring things of him that weren’t in the job description. A younger candidate who got the job, however, lacked qualifications that were stated in the description and that the older candidate had.
Age-based administrative charges: Filing an administrative charge for age discrimination is free with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights, the St. Paul Department of Human Rights & Equal Economic Opportunity, and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. You must be 40 or older to file a federal charge, while the minimum age for filing in Minnesota is 18.
Résumé and cover letters: Don’t put dates of education or past employment on résumés and cover letters. Structure your résumé to focus on the skills you have for the job and highlight that skill set. Get recommendations from past employers who can address your ability to do the job, if possible. If you have a gap or gaps in your employment history, state what you were doing in the cover letter.