Missouri employees and job seekers have protection against age discrimination under the Missouri Human Rights Act. The Act provides protection from employment discrimination for individuals age 40 to 69 years of age. Below is some additional information that may apply.

What provisions does the Act cover?

Employers shall not discriminate against either applicants or employees because of their ages regarding hiring, training, terms, conditions or privileges of employment, promotions, compensation, layoffs, job assignments or benefits under the Act.

Do all Missouri employers have to comply?

Not necessarily, as the Act only applies to those employers that have six or more employees (including local and state governments). These provisions also apply to labor unions, temporary services and employment agencies.

What, specifically, is covered by the Act?

Job notices and advertisements may not specify age preferences or limitations unless the age of the applicant or employee can be demonstrated to be a “bona fide occupational qualification,” i.e., their age is “reasonably necessary to the normal operation of the business.”

Pre-employment inquiries of an applicant’s date of birth or age are not specifically prohibited by the Act but will be carefully analyzed to ensure that the question has a lawful reason to be asked and does not discourage older workers from seeking employment with the business.

Questions that may be legally asked include “Are you over the age of 18?” Questions that could raise the red flags of possible employment discrimination might be “What is your date of birth?” and “How old are you?”

It is fine for a prospective employer to inquire about an employee’s career goals, but they should never pointedly inquire how long a job seeker plans to work before retiring.

Those who believe that they have been discriminated against because of their age have the option of filing a complaint. A Missouri employment law attorney is a good source of additional information regarding the process.

Source: Department of Labor & Industrial Relations, “Age Discrimination” Sep. 02, 2014