Perhaps it was inevitable in some ways.
Age discrimination in California is on the uptick, as baby boomers continue to grow older. The older folks get, the more potential opportunity there is for employers to skirt the law.
This year, the oldest baby boomers, born in 1946, are turning 68. That’s above retirement age. However, for a myriad of reasons, many are staying on the job, holding off on their retirement for at least a few more years.
While about half of these folks are fully retired, according to a recent study by MetLife, approximately 20 percent are still working full-time while about 12 percent are maintaining part-time employment.
Of those who are staying, some have cited financial hardship, much of that brought about by a walloping recession that forced many to dip into retirement savings just to stay afloat. Others have indicated they simply aren’t ready to let go of their careers.
Most have said that age 71 is their ideal retirement age. That’s a pretty major shift from the beginning of the recession, when the ideal retirement age was set at 66.
There are a great number of companies who recognize the value of having older workers, with all of the wisdom and experience these workers can offer. However, there are also a fair amount of employers who are engaging in some form of age discrimination.
Sometimes it’s subtle. Other times, it’s much more blatant.
The AARP reports that one-fifth of all workers between the ages of 45 and 74 responded that they have been denied a job opportunity on the basis of their age. One-tenth say their age was the basis for a lay-off or denial of a promotion or some other career advancement opportunity.
Even those who don’t experience outright, blatant age discrimination have been the subject of a type of hostility known as “microaggressions.” These typically stem from brief encounters, and could include some verbal, environmental or behavioral indignity, intentional or not, that communicates hostility or negativity on the basis of one’s belonging to a certain group – in this case, an older generation.
Examples might be younger workers who give a dismissive look or issue a subtle slight. In some cases, co-workers or supervisors might not even be aware they are doing this. Other times, they may recognize it, but don’t see it as a negative display.
For example, he or she may refer to an older worker as “gramps” or “geezer,” thinking that these are affectionate terms of endearment. In a professional setting, they generally are not. These kinds of interactions are negative and have the potential to harm the overall productive environment within a company.
These types of interaction are tough to address, but employers should be mindful of them because they can lead to discrimination, which is a legal liability to the firm.
Last year, some 23,000 people filed age discrimination claims with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Compare that to about 16,000 in 1997 – a 30 percent increase.
Costa Mesa employment lawsuits can be filed with the help of the Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Orange County, Riverside and Los Angeles. Call 714-937-2020.
Oldest Boomers are Increasingly Facing Discrimination in the Workplace, July 30, 2013, By Dan Kadlec, Time Magazine
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