Although employment figures have been strong over the past few months, a rising tide does not necessarily lift all boats. Older workers, in particular, continue to face an uphill struggle when it comes to finding work or simply retaining their current jobs. Although the federal government banned age discrimination 50 years ago, it remains a serious problem in New York and throughout the country.
Marking the 50th Anniversary of the ADEA
How serious? According to a recent report released by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Congress passing the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), “older workers who lose a job have much more difficulty finding a new job than younger workers.” Victoria A. Lipnic, the EEOC's acting chairperson, said age discrimination is actually a bigger problem now than in past years due to the increasing number of “baby boomers” forced to delay retirement. “While about 10,000 Baby Boomers retire every day,” Lipni noted, “many have inadequate savings for retirement.”
The ADEA specifically prohibits discriminating against employees or job applicants on the basis of age, provided they are least 40 years old. While the ADEA exists separately from Title VII–the federal law that prohibits employment discrimination based on characteristics like age or sex–the EEOC found, contrary to the view of some judges and scholars, that “age discrimination is more like, than different from, other forms of discrimination.” For instance, the EEOC points out that “[s]ex discrimination, like age discrimination, often results from stereotypes about women's abilities and on assumptions about the appropriate roles of women in the workplace and society.” In a similar vein, many employers rely on outdated and incorrect stereotypes about the roles and abilities of older workers.
And while the EEOC said it was impossible to accurately measure age discrimination in the U.S. marketplace, it did cite recent surveys which found “[m]ore than 6 in 10 workers age 45 and older say they have seen or experienced age discrimination in the workplace.” In another survey, about 75% of respondents said “their age was an obstacle to finding a job.” On top of that, African Americans or people who identified as “Black” reported “much higher rates of having experienced age discrimination or knowing someone who had” relative to Whites and Hispanics.
Perhaps not surprisingly, age discrimination is especially high in the technology industry. The EEOC said about “70% of those on IT staffs” said “they had witnessed or experienced age discrimination.” And over 40% of “older tech workers” said they feared “losing their jobs because of age.”
Do Not Accept Age Discrimination in the Workplace
It is a shame that people feel their age and experience is somehow a barrier to continued employment. This is precisely why laws like the ADEA remain relevant even after 50 years. Age discrimination is illegal, and do not allow any employer to suggest otherwise. If you have been denied a job opportunity due to your age and need advice from a qualified New York employment law attorney on what steps to take next, contact the Law Offices of White, Nisar & Hilferty to schedule a consultation today.