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EEOC Report Says Age Discrimination Still Exists, Primarily for Minorities and Tech Workers

July 17th, 2018 by David Minces

Last month, the Equal Employment and Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released a report titled The State of Age Discrimination and Older Workers in the U.S. 50 Years After the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The report, written by Victoria Lipnic, the acting chair of the EEOC, marked the 50th anniversary of the ADEA, which was passed in June of 1967 by President Lyndon B. Johnson. The report found that age discrimination continues to be an unfortunate reality for many Americans to this day.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act was passed to address prejudices in the workplace against those between the ages of forty and sixty-five. Critical to its success in Congress was the Wirtz Report. The groundbreaking study not only showed the pervasiveness of age discrimination in the economy, but it also did away with many misconceptions Americans had about older workers with regards to their effectiveness. The ADEA has been amended multiple times in its fifty years. It has been expanded to cover workers who are employed outside the federal government, and, originally covering workers up to seventy years old, it now protects all ages.

However, there are still some room for improvement so that we can achieve the goals that this law promulgated. According to a study cited by the report, more than 6 in 10 workers claim to have seen or experienced age discrimination, and of those who did, 90 percent believe that the practice is pervasive in the workplace. These results are not the same for all races: the study found that minorities are especially affected by age discrimination. 77 percent of African Americans have experienced or know someone who has experienced age discrimination, while 61 percent of Hispanics and 59 percent of whites can say the same. Workers in the tech industry also experience age discrimination more often than average. While 60 percent of workers aged 45 and older have seen or experienced age discrimination, 70 percent of IT staff say they have, and 4 in 10 older tech workers worry about their jobs due to their age or see their age as a liability to their career.

Age discrimination continues to be a problem for several reasons. Many people believe in the misguided idea that age can determine an employee’s capability. However, research has shown that age is not a good predictor for ability, creativity, or interest in work. Physical ability is also highly individualized and, according to the Wirtz Report, older workers are actually less likely to suffer from chronic illness than younger workers. In a way, older workers might be better described as “experienced workers.” Many also fail to see the gravity of age discrimination, even those in the legal realm. Recently, a judge said that age discrimination is different from other forms of protected discrimination like sex and race because “we are all going to get old.” Not only does age discrimination unfairly categorizes employees based on factors that they cannot control and that are independent of performance, but it is also just as illegal as other forms of discrimination.

The arguments this report presents have large implications. The report notes that an increasing number of older people are involved in the job market due to cultural shifts and the Great Recession of 2008, which delayed the retirement plans for many Baby Boomers. Before the recession, the majority of American workers said they planned to retire before they were 65, but now, most Americans believe the opposite. No matter when they wish to retire, Minces PLLC is dedicated to protecting employees against unfair and illegal discrimination. Our lawyers have years of experience in pursuing age discrimination claims and would be happy to assist you with yours.

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