Topic:
EMPLOYMENT (GENERAL); DISCRIMINATION; ELDERLY;
Location:
DISCRIMINATION IN EMPLOYMENT;
Scope:
Court Cases; Other States laws/regulations; Connecticut laws/regulations;

OLR Research Report


December 17, 2002

 

2002-R-1010

AGE DISCRIMINATION

 

By: Sandra Norman-Eady, Chief Attorney

You asked (1) for a summary of Connecticut's age discrimination laws, (2) how our law on age discrimination in employment compares to that in the other New England states, and (3) what percentage of the employment discrimination complaints the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO) receives are based on age.

SUMMARY

State law generally prohibits discrimination based on age in employment, public accommodations, housing, and credit practices. It also prohibits the state from considering age when making employment decisions; providing services; granting, denying, or revoking licenses or charters; or allocating benefits. There are some exceptions to these prohibitions. For example, the law against (1) employment discrimination does not apply to employment where age is a bona fide occupational qualification or need and (2) housing discrimination does not apply to two-family dwellings if the owner occupies one of the dwelling units as his primary residence.

Connecticut's law on age discrimination in employment compares favorably to laws in the other New England states.

During the last two fiscal years, complaints of age discrimination in employment have made up over 20% of the employment discrimination cases the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO) receives. From July 1, 2000 to June 30, 2001 CHRO received a total of 2,006 employment discrimination complaints. Of these, 432 (22%) involved age discrimination. The following year, July 1, 2001 to June 30, 2002 CHRO received a total of 1,991 such complaints and 431 (22%) were based on age.

DISCRIMINATION BASED ON AGE IN CONNECTICUT

Employment Discrimination

State law prohibits employers (including employment agencies and labor organizations) from discharging or refusing to hire someone because of his age. It also prohibits discrimination against an employee in compensation or in terms, conditions, or privileges of employment because of age (CGS 46a-60).

This law specifies that it is not illegal discrimination to base hiring or other employment decisions on a bona fide occupational qualification or need. Our courts have construed this as requiring that no member of the excluded class be physically capable of performing the tasks required by the job (Evening Sentinel v. National Organization for Women, 168 Conn. 26 (1975)).

The prohibition against age discrimination does not prevent the termination of someone age 65 or older who, for the two years immediately preceding the termination, was employed in a bona fide executive or high policymaking position, if he is entitled to an immediate nonforfeitable annual retirement benefit under a pension or similar plan from his employer that is worth at least $44,000. It also exempts (1) firing or laying off people in occupations including police work and firefighting, for which age is a bona fide occupational qualification; (2) age restrictions in a bona fide apprenticeship system or plan; and (3) the observance of the terms of a bona fide seniority system or any bona fide retirement plan. But the law specifies that no such system or plan may require or permit employers to discharge people because of their age.

No benefit plan that covers less than 20 employees may reduce the group hospital, surgical, or medical insurance coverage provided under the plan to any employee or employee's spouse who has reached the age of 65 and is eligible for Medicare benefits except to the extent that Medicare provides such coverage. Plans covering 20 or more employees must provide any employees and their spouses who reach age 65 the same group hospital, surgical, or medical insurance coverage that they provide to employees or spouses who are under the age 65.

State law also prohibits employee retirement or pension plans from excluding any employee or stopping or reducing his benefit accruals or allocations on the basis of age (CGS 46a-60(b)(2)). The law does not, however, prohibit an employer from requiring medical examinations for employees for the purpose of determining such employee's physical qualification for continued employment (CGS 46a-60(b)(3)).

Public Accommodations

The law prohibits any place of public accommodation, resort, or amusement from (1) denying anyone in this state full and equal accommodations because of age or (2) discriminating, segregating, or separating anyone on account of age. The prohibition does not apply to minors or to special discounts or other private or public programs to assist people aged 60 or older (CGS 46a-64).

Housing

It is a discriminatory housing practice to do any of the following things based on the age of a potential purchaser or renter:

1. refuse to sell or rent a dwelling after making a bona fide offer, refuse to negotiate for its sale or rental, or otherwise make it unavailable;

2. discriminate in the terms, conditions, or privileges of a dwelling's sale or rental or in the provision of services or facilities connected to it;

3. make, print, or publish, or cause to be made, printed, or published any notice, statement, or advertisement with respect to the sale or rental of a dwelling that indicates any preference, limitation, or discrimination;

4. represent that a dwelling is not available for inspection, sale, or rental when such dwelling is in fact so available, including steering people to certain area;

5. induce or attempt to induce any person to sell or rent any dwelling by representing the entry or prospective entry into the neighborhood of anyone of a particular age;

6. refuse, as a real estate agent, to complete a real estate transaction or discriminate in the transaction's terms or conditions;

7. deny access to or membership or participation in any multiple-listing service, real estate brokers' organization or other service, organization, or facility relating to the business of selling or renting dwellings, including placing discriminatory terms or conditions on access; or

8. coerce, intimidate, threaten, or interfere with a person's exercise or enjoyment of any of the above rights (CGS 46a-64c(a)).

The prohibition does not apply to rooms rented in a single-family dwelling or a building with no more than two dwelling units if the owner lives there (CGS 46a-64c(b)(1)). It also does not apply to minors, special discounts, or other programs to assist people aged 60 or older, including senior housing, provided there is co discrimination based on aged among the aged (CGS 46a-64c(b)(3)).

Credit Practice

The law prohibits creditors from discriminating against a person aged 18 or older on the basis of age, unless such action is taken in conformity with a rule or regulation or declaratory ruling of a governmental agency with jurisdiction under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (CGS 46a-66).

State Benefits, Employment, and Services

The state must recruit, employ, train, evaluate, promote personnel; provide services; grant, deny, or revoke licenses or charters; and allocate benefits without regard for age (CGS 46a-70 to 76).

COMPARISON OF EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION BASED ON AGE

We compared the major components of age discrimination in employment laws in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Although these laws were generally similar in their prohibitions, Table 1 shows some major differences.

Table 1: Employment Discrimination By State

States

Applies to All Employers

Limitation On Ages Covered

Exemption for Bona Fide Occupational Qualifications

Connecticut

46a-60

No, it does not apply to employers with fewer than three employees

No

Yes

Maine

5 4553 et seq.

No, it does not apply to nonprofit religious or fraternal corporations or associations with respect to members of their religion, sect, or fraternity

No

Yes

Massachusetts

151B 4

No, it does not apply to employers with fewer than six employees or exclusively social or fraternal nonprofit clubs or organizations

Yes, applies only to people over age 40 (like the federal law)

Yes

New Hampshire

354-A: 7

No, it does not apply to employers with fewer than six employees

No

Yes

Rhode Island

28-5-6 et seq.

No, it does not apply to employers with less than four employees

No

Yes

Vermont

495

Yes

Yes, does not apply to minors

Yes

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