Employment-Second Circuit Holds That Employer Can Be Liable Under ADEA For Actions Of Independent Contractor

In Halpert v. Manhattan Apartments, Inc., No. 07-4074-cv (2nd Circuit 2009), the Court ruled that the employer may be held liable, under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”), for discrimination by a third party, such as an independent contractor, who the employer authorizes to make its hiring decisions.

In this case, Robert Brooks had interviewed plaintiff Halpert, and allegedly told Halpert that he was “too old” for a position showing rental apartments for defendant Manhattan Apartments, Inc. (“MAI”). Brooks was an independent contractor, and not an employee, of MAI. Nevertheless, the Court ruled that MAI could be liable for the statement made by Brooks in an action brought under ADEA, so long as Brooks had been authorized by MAI to interview job applicants and make hiring decisions on MAI’s behalf. The Court remanded the case back to the lower court to determine if Brooks was so authorized.