Age discrimination is something we’re going to be seeing a lot more of in the coming years, as older generations are working longer and in more highly specialized fields. As of 2016, nearly 20 percent of Americans over the age of 65 are working. Some do it because they want to continue their contributions. Others do it because they have no other choice. The traditional pension that workers traditionally leaned on to sustain them in their 60s and well into their 70s just isn’t an option for most workers anymore.
And then there are those like JK Scheinberg, who detailed his recent confrontation with age discrimination. He’s a former software engineer at Apple who retired at age 54 after 20 years of working at the firm. In fact, he was credited with leading the effort that moved the Mac to Intel processors.
Scheinberg explained to a New York Times reporter recently how, feeling a bit restless in his retirement, he sought a job at the Apple Genius Bar. For those unfamiliar, this is where customers can take their Apple computers when they are having difficulties or glitches.
He applied for the position and sat down for a group interview at an Apple store. His interviewers outright noted that he was much older than the other candidates. What they did not say, and what should have been obvious, was that his qualifications were superior. He helped to build the very systems they were promising customers they could fix.
The interviewers promised him they’d be in touch. They never were. And if you go to any Apple Genius counter today, you’ll notice the staff is considerably younger.
The technology press has picked up on the story, lambasting the store for its conduct. However, Scheinberg has yet to get a call back. As Gizomodo noted, customers at Apple would have been lucky to have someone with Scheinberg’s qualifications on their side. There is a general sense that the store managers very much dropped the ball here. But of course, this sort of thing happens all the time, though usually to people without Scheinberg’s clout or connections to The New York Times.
The newspaper took note of a study earlier this year by the National Bureau of Economic Research that revealed there was strong evidence to suggest that women in particular are targeted for age discrimination in the workplace, which starts earlier than for men and never relents. The pay gap reportedly kicks in early, around age 32, when women begin getting passed over for important promotions.
Many older Americans facing age discrimination get discouraged and simply give up, voluntarily walking out of a workforce that fails to appreciate all they have to offer – or won’t even give them a shot. In many cases, they become economically dependent. This leads into the perception that older Americans are largely a burden on society, but in many cases, it’s not because they want to be. It’s because no one will hire them and therefore, they can’t remain self-sufficient.
Unfortunately, there are a number of negative stereotypes about older workers, but under scrutiny, none hold up.
Contact the employment attorneys at Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Orange County, Riverside and Los Angeles. Call 949.375.4734.
You’re How Old? We’ll Be in Touch, Sept. 3, 2016, The New York Times
More Blog Entries:
Hollywood Age Discrimination Target of Bill, Aug. 21, 2015, Orange County Age Discrimination Attorney Blog