Congresswoman Sylvia R. Garcia Files Legislation To Protect Older American Job Applicants From Age Discrimination

June 17, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Congresswoman Sylvia R. Garcia (TX-29) filed legislation to protect older job applicants from age discrimination at the first opportunity—the hiring phase.

The Protect Older Job Applicants (POJA) Act will codify and clarify protections for older job applicants in the current Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). While many employers and legal scholars have interpreted the ADEA as applying to job applicants and employees, two federal circuit court decisions over the last five years (Villareal v. RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company and Kleber v. CareFusion Corp.) ruled that some provisions of the ADEA’s federal anti-age discrimination protections only applied to current employees, not job applicants.

However, these court decisions are strict and narrow interpretations of the ADEA, which seek to deprive applicants and workers the protections they rightfully deserve. Additionally, these narrow interpretations contradict the intentions of the ADEA’s creators.

Congresswoman Garcia’s POJA Act seeks to rectify these misguided decisions to specifically include job applicants as protected under the ADEA.

Statement from Congresswoman Garcia:

“Ageism is still very much present in our society. Unfortunately, this negatively affects older Americans who are seeking to return to the workforce or transition into new careers” said Congresswoman Garcia.

Garcia cited a 2020 AARP report that revealed 76% of older American workers see age discrimination as a barrier to attaining a job, as inspiration for filing the POJA Act.  “It’s important we, as a society, acknowledge that we still have a long way to go to correct this often-implicit bias and give everyone a fair and equal opportunity when applying for a job. This bill seeks to do that,” concluded the Congresswoman.

The POJA Act is endorsed by the National Council on Aging (NCOA). Ramsey Alwin, President and CEO at NCOA said the following in support:

“During the pandemic, more than half of older workers continue to struggle with long-term unemployment. Many have abandoned the job the search entirely; nearly two million more than anticipated have given up and retired. On behalf of millions of older workers, NCOA applauds Rep. Garcia’s tireless advocacy to ensure that ADEA protections are extended to job applicants. We are pleased to endorse the Congresswoman’s Protect Older Job Applicants (POJA) Act.”

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Congresswoman Sylvia R. Garcia was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in November 2018, becoming the first Latina ever to represent Texas’ 29th Congressional district.