Colorado’s “Job Application Fairness Act” – Start Preparing for Compliance
Prior to Colorado’s “Equal Pay for Equal Work Act” which went into effect in 2021, it was commonplace for job applications and interviewers to ask how much someone earned in their previous jobs. Companies, hiring managers, and recruiters have since made the necessary adjustments to eliminate questions about prior compensation from their applications and interviews.
Well, it’s time to start preparing to make another adjustment – this time relating to age-related inquiries.
C.R.S Section 8-2-131, or the “Job Application Fairness Act”, resulted from Colorado’s 2023 legislative session. As of the effective date, July 1, 2024, Colorado employers and multi-jurisdictional companies who advertise and hire within the state will be prohibited from inquiring about a prospective employee’s age, date of birth, or dates of attendance at or date of graduation from educational institutions on any initial employment applications.
Although most employers don’t ask direct age-related questions, such as the candidate’s age or date of birth, many job applications do seek information that can indirectly reveal the applicant’s age, such as dates of attendance or graduation from school. Since it is commonplace for people to graduate from high school in their late teens, it is easy to determine someone’s age with this question.
Employers may verify an applicant’s compliance with age requirements for a job at the initial interview stage when required for a bona fide occupational qualification pertaining to public or occupational safety, and to comply with federal laws or regulations or state or local laws or regulations based on a bona fide occupational qualification. However, such requests may not require disclosure of the worker’s age, date of birth, or dates of study by the applicant or a third party.
Employers may still ask the applicant to provide copies of certifications and transcripts, but only if they first notify the applicant that they can redact information that would identify their age, date of birth, or dates of study from those materials.
Penalties for Violation
The Job Application Fairness Act does not create a private right of action for aggrieved workers, but employers who violate this law do face penalties enforced by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE).
- The first violation may result in a warning and an order requiring compliance within 15 business days.
- The second violation may result in an order requiring compliance within 15 business days and a fine of up to $1,000.
- A third violation may result in an order requiring compliance within 15 business days and a fine of up to $2,500.
- Each distinct job application containing age-related inquiries constitutes a separate violation under this law.
Start Preparing in Advance
Companies that operate within Colorado should start the process of removing all age-related questions from both paper and online job applications so that they are in compliance by no later than July 1, 2024.
In addition, employers should provide training to their interviewers to ensure they understand not to ask age-related questions during applicant interviews.
As we all know, it can take practice to break oneself from the habit of asking certain interview questions that have become second nature. Therefore, it’s best not to wait until July 1, 2024, to have your company’s interviewers start making the necessary adjustments.
ASA Staffing Today, 7/19/2023. “Colorado’s New Job Application Law Prohibits Age-Related Inquiries”, Lexology (07/14/2023), Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck LLP – Dreyer, Kayla D.; Samsel, Christine A.; Kalvelage, Russell.
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