The House Education And Labor Committee Advances Congresswoman Sylvia R. Garcia’s Legislation To Protect Older American Job Applicants From Age Discrimination

July 15, 2021
Press Release
Media Contact: Daniela Campos | daniela.campos@mail.house.gov | 202-227-0330

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, the House Committee on Education and Labor advanced the Protect Older Job Applicants Act, HR 3992, introduced by Congresswoman Sylvia R. Garcia (TX-29).

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) during the first opportunity—the hiring phase. 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:

“I applaud and thank the Education and Labor Committee’s decision to advance my bill, the Protect Older Job Applicants Act. People of all ages, but especially older applicants, must be protected from discriminatory practices and loopholes that hurt their chances to get a job, especially as we have seen that older American workers have disproportionately experienced long-term unemployment in the COVID economy. There is no place in our country for ageism. Period.” 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) and AARP.

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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.