Thursday, September 10, 2009

Second Circuit: Employer Liable for Age Discrimination by Independent Contractor Who Does Its Hiring

The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled today that when a company uses an independent contractor to do its hiring, the company will be liable if the independent contractor engages in age discrimination. Halpert v. Manhattan Apartments, Inc.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) makes it unlawful for an employer "to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual or otherwise discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment because of such individual's age." 29 U.S.C. § 623(a)(1).

Defendant Manhattan Apartments employed an independent contractor to interview applicants for the position of showing rental apartments to potential tenants. The plaintiff asserted that when the independent contractor interviewed him he was told he was "too old" for the position.

In reversing a grant of summary judgment to Manhattan Apartments and ordering a trial, the court stated: "If a company gives an individual authority to interview job applicants and make hiring decisions on the company's behalf, then the company may be held liable if that individual improperly discriminates against applicants on the basis of age." The decision can be found here.

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