The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, 29 USC 621, outlaws discrimination on the basis of one’s older age. When Congress passed the law, it acknowledged that older persons were disadvantaged by companies had commonly begun setting arbitrary age limits – regardless of the potential for job performance.
This year marks 50 since the ADEA was passed, and still, age discrimination remains a common problem – even among those companies at the forefront of our technological advances. Social media companies in particular have been accused of perpetuating a culture of age discrimination.
Recently, Facebook was once again named a defendant in an age discrimination lawsuit, this one filed by a 52-year-old man who alleged that for two years, he was constantly the target of ageist jokes. Among the common themes of this constant humiliation were that older people were “creepy,” “don’t belong” at the organization and shouldn’t be employed by the firm because they “don’t relate.” One might characterize such statements as the ill-advised but isolated remarks of a few, but that argument starts to falter when you consider the highly-publicized comments made publicly by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg 10 years ago, who remarked that younger people are “just smarter.” Later, according to plaintiff’s lawsuit, a chart was displayed during a human resources presentation which showed workers in their 50s to be “low energy.” Continue reading