Although the American workforce is aging, older workers are at a higher risk of being subject to age discrimination. A bipartisan piece of legislation called the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act, or POWADA, would seek to reverse a 2009 Supreme Court decision. That ruling made it more difficult for workers to show that age played a role in a demotion or termination. If POWADA passes, workers would not need to show that age was the sole reason for an employment decision.
Prior to the 2009 ruling, employers had to show that there was a valid reason for demoting or firing an older worker. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, age discrimination is both common and accepted. This is in spite of the fact that the Age Discrimination in Employment Act was designed to protect the rights of older workers.
According to an EEOC study, only 3 percent of workers who experience age discrimination at work report it. However, 90 percent of workers 45 and older said in another study that such behavior is common. Research has shown that age generally has no bearing on how well an employee will do in a given role. However, it is not uncommon for people to make jokes about the mental and physical condition of an older individual.
It is generally a violation of employment law to make decisions about a worker's future based solely on age. Those who feel as if age played a role in not getting a job or other opportunity with a company might benefit from contacting an attorney. Doing so may make it possible for a person to learn more about their rights under the law. Victims of age discrimination may be entitled to compensation or other relief.
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If you have any questions regarding discrimination in the workplace, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act or any employment law issues, please do not hesitate to contact me, Santiago J. Padilla, Esq., either at 800-483-7197, or [email protected]