I have posed a question on my Facebook page, as well as on a professional group on LinkedIn, where I am very active: What is the most prevalent area of discrimination in hiring today?

The overwhelming answer across the board is age, and you want to know something? That pisses me off!!! Let me explain.

For starters, discrimination is unacceptable. I don't care if you are green with no arms, 3 legs, and like your dog in a very questionable way. (If that is the case, please do not come near Sulley, our mascot!) If there is something about you that has not been a choice (aka: race, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, etc.), this should have absolutely zero indication of your previous performance or future ability to perform a job. So long as you are capable of performing your role with reasonable accommodation, you should be considered for the role and interviewed. From there, if you fit in with the corporate culture and demonstrate the best skill set (and attitude), you should be hired. Plain and simple.

But in today's hiring culture, things are not so cut and dry. Older people are being told they are "overqualified". What the hell does that even mean? If they are capable of, and interested in, doing a job, will accept competitive pay, utilize the knowledge they own. 

Are managers afraid that someone will retire? One of their employees can get hit by a bus or approached by a recruiter tomorrow. Stop being ridiculous! Give experienced people a change. Many of these candidates have excellent, stable work histories, a wealth of knowledge, the capability to train, lead, and encourage younger employees, and what they lack may be a sick, young child at home, needing a lot of days off. (Don't get me started on how many days schools are closed!) 

Companies are afraid of paying higher health care costs? Young employees get seriously ill sometimes too. Many people in their 50's want to work 15+ years before retirement. Let's give them a chance. If we are lucky, we will be there someday too!
Because there is no formalized schooling offered around teaching a person how to interview potential employees, there become issues and pratfalls surrounding interviewing. One of those issues involves the asking of illegal and inappropriate interviewing questions.

Based on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), it is illegal to discriminate for employment and pay of an employee, based upon: age, gender, marital status, race, color, religion, sexual orientation, pregnancy, or disability. You simply must be capable of doing the job well.

Unfortunately, employers notice such factors during an interview. Someone may inadvertently ask if you have a child in conversation. Or mention another of the areas listed above. At that point, you may want to consider if this would be the right employer for you, in light of what they are asking. Are they familiar with the laws? If they are in Human Resources, I would not be comfortable entrusting this person with my confidential information!

However, it is possible that the interviewer simply does not know any better. If that is the case, I would ask how the point in question (age/parenthood/gender/marital status) would reflect on my capabilities as an employee. Perhaps, the interviewer is concerned about travel. You can share that you are able to travel the required amount. Dig deeper and identify the issue. See if there is more to the question. If not, that may just not be the employer for you.