That question is not legally forbidden per se. The State and federal discrimination agencies may look long and hard as to whether age discrimination occurred, but the inquiry is not forbidden in itself. There is no stereotyped presumption in the law that everyone graduates at the same age. The information is used to verify schooling and degrees obtained, and also to see whether someone is hiding an employment gap. By the same token, applicants are ordinarily asked to provide a complete work history. Someone with 35 years at a company will most likely be older than someone with a two year work history, but the revelation of age does not make the inquiry illegal.
The above does not constitute legal advice in any specific situation, and is provided for informational and discussion purposes only.
Failure to hire cases are very hard to prove. There could be any number of reasons why that employer chose to go in another direction and any number of those reasons could be non-discriminatory.
That being said, if you are sure, and if you have evidence, that you were not hired based on age discrimination, you should seek counsel with a local employment attorney.
Joshua Erlich is an attorney in Arlington, Virginia. His response to your question is general in nature, as not all the facts are known to him. You should retain an experienced attorney to review all the facts in your case in order to receive advice specific to your case. Mr. Erlich's statement above does not create an attorney/client relationship.
Threshold issue : are you over 40? Federal age discrimination statutes protect only those over 40. Under 40, age discrimination is not unlawful.
The question is not unlawful, just unwise.
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