Proposed bill would prohibit Colorado employers from asking age-related questions on initial job applications

Proposed bill would prohibit Colorado employers from asking age-related questions on initial job applications
Posted at 6:42 PM, Feb 02, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-02 20:42:26-05

DENVER — Anytime you apply for a job, it's all about putting your best foot forward.

On applications, questions about your experience, education and skills help paint a picture of who you are for prospective employers. A question you might not put too much thought into — your age.

"I just needed a chance to get into the room to have a conversation about what I could do," said Lisa Jensen.

She says her age kept her from even getting an interview after she was laid off from her job of 23 years.

"I spent the next 14 months applying for over 70 jobs. I was very well-qualified for every job that I applied for," said Jensen.

Even state government jobs ask about age.

State Senator Jessie Danielson, D-Wheat Ridge, says Jensen is not alone in her experience. As Colorado's population ages, Danielson worries about what that will mean for workers.

"What we want to do is give these applicants a fair shot and an equal playing field," she said.

Danielson introduced Senate Bill 23-058 to ban employers from asking people about their age, date of birth or graduation dates on initial job applications.

"The employers will still receive these amazing applications, they just won't be able to see how old the applicant is on the front end," Danielson said.

If passed, Colorado would join California, Connecticut, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin in making such a change, according to AARP.

But opponents of the bill say age discrimination doesn't exist, particularly now when there are twice as many open job positions as available workers.

"People are already having a difficult time just finding qualified people to fill these job vacancies. So the idea that somehow age is playing a significant factor into who is getting hired, it's just simply not the case," said Adam Burg, vice president of government affairs with the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce.

Burg says there are already federal anti-discrimination laws in place, and this will put an additional burden on businesses.

"Needing to train someone on more recently introduced technology in the workplace. Obviously, as you know that depending on age, it would impact your health care premiums, it could impact retirement benefits, those sorts of things," he said.

Burg also believes the bill could backfire and hurt younger applicants.

Applying for a job is a big moment. For would-be workers, it means putting your best foot forward. For employers, it means finding the right fit. The debate is whether these questions make a difference.

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