Did you know 25 percent of Connecticut's workforce is at least 55 years or older? As our population’s demographics shift, public policy must adapt to a rapidly changing workforce. That’s why I’ll work this session to address age discrimination. As you probably know, discrimination against a potential new hire is already illegal. Unfortunately, loopholes in our law leave older workers vulnerable to bias when they apply for a job.

That’s why I’ve decided to co-sponsor a new bill that is strongly supported by the Connecticut AARP. Senator Derek Slap’s proposed legislation prohibits employers from asking an applicant for information regarding their age, date of birth, or graduation date, unless that information is related to a specific occupational qualification.

In 2018, the AARP found that 60 percent of older workers saw or experienced age discrimination in their own workplace, with just over 75 percent of them seeing it as a hurdle to find a new job. At the same time, almost a third of U.S. households headed by someone over the age of 55 have no retirement savings or pension, meaning they will need to rely on Social Security or continue working.

How would our bill make a difference? This reform ensures that the best applicant on paper progresses to an interview without running into bias about his or her age. While applicants may still face age discrimination in the interview, they would at least be able to advocate for themselves in person and show attributes that an employer may not be able to discern from a resume.

I’m excited to support this bill and hope to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to address this issue in the coming months. Employees of all ages bring valuable perspectives to Connecticut’s workforce, and no one should be denied an interview because of their age. Additionally, if you have experienced age discrimination and would like to testify about it at a future public hearing, please contact my office — my team and I would be more than happy to let you know once a hearing is scheduled.