U.S. Labor Department Facilitating Age Discrimination

Americans age 40 and older have a new reason to fear age discrimination: the United States Department of Labor.
The Work Opportunity Tax Credit is at the root of the problem. This program is administered by the Labor Department and gives businesses tax breaks for hiring people from certain target groups.1
Among those groups are people enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which provides food stamps.2 At first glance, that would seem to make sense. Helping the poor is the right thing to do. However, the Labor Department states on its website that SNAP recipients range in age from 18 to 39 years old. 2
That age range is inaccurate, as is proven by a 2013 report from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) entitled, “Characteristics of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Households: Fiscal Year 2013.” 3
The report shows that, as of fiscal year 2013, SNAP participants aged 18 to 59 comprised 46.4 percent of total food stamp recipients.3 According to the report, adults age 60 or older comprised 9.3 percent of total recipients in the same year.3
So, why is the Labor Department giving companies a tax break of up to $2,400 for hiring SNAP recipients who are only in the narrow age range of 18 to 39? 4
Surely, that government agency, the very agency tasked with supporting labor rights for Americans, would be aware of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, which prohibits “age discrimination in employment” against “individuals of at least 40 years of age.” 5
It gets worse, though.  On its website, the Labor Department instructs employers to complete the dubiously-worded IRS Form 8850 when applying for the Work Opportunity Tax Credit. 6
This form asks each job applicant to verify whether he or she is “at least age 18 but not age 40 or older and [is] a member of a family that:
“a. Received SNAP benefits (food stamps) for the past 6 months; or
“b. Received SNAP benefits (food stamps) for at least 3 of the past 5 months, but is no longer eligible to receive them.” 7
Disturbingly, IRS Form 8850 has been integrated into online job applications that use applicant tracking systems. I have personally found that I couldn’t finish submitting some online job applications without filling out IRS Form 8850 and answering the question about my age range.
Of course, Congress had to authorize the poorly-designed Work Opportunity Tax Credit in order for the program to be implemented. Therefore, Americans age 40 and older are faced with the inescapable conclusion that the Federal government is, whether intentionally or not, facilitating age discrimination in employment.

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  1. “Work Opportunity Tax Credit.” Employment & Training Administration (ETA) – U.S. Department of Labor. United States Department of Labor, 15 Dec 2008. Web. www.doleta.gov/business/incentives/opptax/
  2.   “Work Opportunity Tax Credit: Eligible New Hires.” United States Department of Labor. 8 Apr 2010. Web. www.doleta.gov/business/incentives/opptax/eligible.cfm
  3. Farson Gray, Kelsey. “Characteristics of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Households: Fiscal Year 2013.” Nutrition Assistance Program Report Series. SNAP-14-CHAR (2104): 22. Web. www.fns.usda.gov/sites/default/files/ops/Characteristics2013.pdf
  4. “Work Opportunity Tax Credit: WOTC Tax Credit Amounts.” United States Department of Labor. 8 Apr 2010. Web. www.doleta.gov/business/incentives/opptax/benefits.cfm
  5. “The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967.” U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Web. www.eeoc.gov/laws/statutes/adea.cfm
  6. “U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.” United States Department of Labor. Web. www.doleta.gov/business/incentives/opptax/PDF/WOTC_Program_Brochure.pdf
  7. “Form 8850, Pre-Screening Notice and Certification Request for the Work Opportunity Credit.” IRS. Web. www.irs.gov/uac/form-8850-pre-screening-notice-and-certification-request-for-the-work-opportunity-credit

h/t BB


1 thought on “U.S. Labor Department Facilitating Age Discrimination”

    it is much worse than just this, IF you are WHITE and OLD, even if you are still working at 3 jobs at 80 years old!


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