If employment bloggers haven’t already lit up the internet with Hillary Clinton’s latest comment, then it’s all the proof we need that no one really cares about age discrimination.
But they should. You should. You really, really, really should.
The Cost of Age Discrimination
It’s about the law.
If you’re an employee or a job applicant, you should know about the laws in place to protect you against employers discriminating against you based on your age. This holds true especially for baby boomers. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) protects individuals who are 40 years of age or older from employment discrimination based on age.
It’s about money.
If you’re an employer, pretending age discrimination doesn’t exist or ignoring anti-discrimination laws altogether could cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars. In this report, AARP states that the cost of negotiated settlements of federal age discrimination complaints totaled $69 million in 2004 alone.
It’s about a productive American workforce.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that half of our working population is 40 or older. It’s discouraging that intelligent and capable adults – many of whom are women – are being discriminated against simply because of their age. Clinton spoke eloquently about the issue at the Simmons Leadership Conference in Boston on Thursday. As reported in CNN’s Political Ticker blog, Clinton said this:
“You know, a lot of women who drop out of the workforce in their late 20s and their 30s, they raise their children, you know their brains have not atrophied. They still have great abilities, great talents, great opportunities to participate. There’s an army and frankly a very large group of older women who could make a difference to America’s corporations, America’s business, academia, politics, you name it.”
It’s about longterm viability.
Australia is facing a dilemma. Its government is considering raising the retirement age to 70 to combat people pulling in their pension too early. However, Australia’s Age Discrimination Commissioner says the government is asking for trouble if it does this without trying to encourage employers to hire people aged 50-plus. There is too much age discrimination going on. Simply put, she says: “People can’t work until they are 70 if the system won’t let them.”
You can read more about the issue here: http://www.skynews.com.au/business/business/national/2014/04/23/calls-to-end-working-age-discrimination.html#sthash.KEoRB1Pg.dpuf
Age Discrimination Defined
Age discrimination protection as outlined in ADEA applies to both employees and job applicants. ADEA protection covers:
- job assignments
The ADEA allows employers to favor older workers even if might adversely affect a younger worker who is also 40 or older.
You’re also protected from an employers’ retaliation if you choose to file, testify or participate in an age discrimination lawsuit. In other words, you can’t be fired for bringing forth an allegation.
Beware of Exemptions
The ADEA applies to employers with 20 or more employees. If you employ less than 15 workers, only some anti-discrimination laws apply. Small businesses with as few as three employees are exempt from most anti-discrimination laws. However, all employers are bound by the Equal Pay Act which prevents gender disparity in pay for the same or similar job.
When to Sue
This is a hard nut to crack because winning an age discrimination lawsuit is getting tougher.
The reason is that age discrimination now has to be proved as the ‘motivating factor’ in why you were fired or didn’t get a promotion or were laid off or whatever the case may be. That is difficult because as companies seek to trim fat from their budget they often look at the highest-paid positions. This usually translates into employees who have worked for them for a long time (ie. older employees). Check out the Gross v. FBL case for reference.
Still, sometimes you want to sue. You better be ready to prove it, though. Here are 6 steps we borrowed from this lawyer’s post.
1.) Direct Evidence
6.) Promotions and Hiring
Time to go check our Google Alerts to see if Clinton’s comment is making a blip. For the sake of age discrimination prevention, we hope so!