With more older employees continuing to work, it makes statistical sense that there would be an accompanying increase in the number of age discrimination claims. Still, the percentage of older workers affected by discrimination is staggering. In that AARP/The Economist study, two-thirds of older working Americans said they have experienced or have seen age discrimination in the workplace. That is despite the 1967 Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) that specifically forbids discrimination against those 40 years and older in any aspect of employment – hiring, compensation, promotions, reduction in force, and others.
About 90 percent of those who were pushed out of a longtime job never earned as much again. There is another statistic that is just as alarming. Although many older workers report experiencing discrimination, only 3% have filed a complaint. That might change if more people feel empowered to defend themselves against ageism.
Our experienced team at Shellist Lazarz Slobin focuses on all aspects of employment law, including age discrimination.
Discrimination During Economic Downturns
With older employees experiencing more discrimination in the recession of 2007-2009, most experts believe a similar increase will accompany the economic downturn brought on my COVID-19. There is anecdotal evidence that employers are using the pandemic to rationalize a reduction in force. When they rehire, they are choosing younger applicants.
Age discrimination obviously hurts the older worker, but it also hurts the businesses themselves. Companies miss out on the experience, maturity, and confidence that age can bring. Older employees often serve as mentors for younger colleagues, freeing up managers to focus on other priorities instead of micromanaging. Discriminatory practices of any kind can dampen morale and increase turnover. Hiring new employees is expensive in terms of financial and productivity costs.
The changing demographics in the U.S. are also a cause for concern. By 2035, there will be more people over the age of 65 than those 18 and younger. The U.S. birth rate has declined for the last six years, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. If organizations continue to favor youth over experience in their employment practices, there will not be enough workers for the jobs that need to be filled. The overall economic effect could be disastrous. As a country, we need to rethink how we value older Americans.
Fighting Age Discrimination in the Workplace
ADEA is enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). According to the commission’s website, ADEA prohibits:
- “Statements or specifications in job notices or advertisements of age preference and limitations. An age limit may only be specified in the rare circumstance where age has been proven to be a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ);
- “Discrimination on the basis of age by apprenticeship programs, including joint labor-management apprenticeship programs; and
- “Denial of benefits to older employees . . .[unless] . . .the cost of providing the reduced benefits to older workers is the same as the cost of providing benefits to younger workers.”
If you suspect that you are being discriminated against at work because of your age, contact our skilled lawyers at Shellist Lazarz Slobin. We are based in Houston but handle cases anywhere in the U.S. If we take your case, we will fully investigate what happened to you and pursue your discrimination claims. We can help you prepare a complaint with the EEOC or potentially file a lawsuit against your employer.