Employment Law Questions? Ask an Employment Lawyer.
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You do, at the very least, have what is called a prima facie case of age discrimination. What this means is you can meet the basic elements of a civil rights claim - which are 1) you are part of a protected class, 2) you are qualified for your job but treated adversely to similarly situated employees in the majority (i.e., a substantially younger) and 3) suffered an adverse employment action. With this you can bring a charge and it is for the employer then to attempt to refute your allegations with a legitimate non-discriminatory reason for your non-hire. From your question it appears you have a good record and the 35 year old was in a different position and they otherwise cannot refute that you were the superior candidate, so it will be difficult for them to prove some legitimate factor other than age was the reason for his hire over yours. I have no idea what the employer may try to pull out of its hat in this scenario, but you at least can push to see what they'll say and whether it has any legitimacy. I'd suggest you file with the EEOC first to see what the employer's position is in regard to their reason for non-hire.
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