Older workers are the fastest-growing group of Americans – and also some of the most vulnerable to adverse action on the basis of their age, which is a protected status under state and federal civil rights law. As age discrimination lawyers can explain, the law protects workers from age-based bias starting at age 40, but those over 65 are the most at-risk.
These individuals in decades past did not continue their careers much beyond this time, if at all, but that’s been changing. Reasons for this include:
- Wage growth stagnation
- Disappearing pensions
- Delaying claims to Social Security benefits to maximize payouts
- Longer lifespans
- Not having much of a retirement to speak of or fearing it will run out way too soon
A survey conducted last year by Gallop found that more than 40 percent expect to work beyond age 65. That’s a sizable uptick since 2004, when 26 percent answered the same, and almost quadruple what it was in 1995. It’s likely to continue this upward trajectory. Continue reading
The technology sector has been noted for its extensive examples of alleged California age discrimination complaints, particularly in Silicon Valley, home to some the tech industry’s high rollers. IBM is a firm that has repeatedly been accused of unlawfully discriminating against employees on the basis of age.
Four former employees of the company allege top executives at the firm were calculated in violating the law during a round of layoffs that specifically targeted older workers. It sounds outrageous, but as our Los Angeles age discrimination attorneys know, these are just four of an estimated 20,000 workers over the age of 40 who have been discharged the last six years.
The workers say the company violated federal laws like the Age Discrimination in Employment and the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA) in trying to alter the makeup of the company’s senior administration roles by replacing the majority of baby boomers at the helm with younger workers and recent college graduates perceived as more tech-savvy. Continue reading
Age discrimination permeates workplaces across California within all industries and income brackets, with one study revealing reports of on-the-job ageism rising 44 percent in the last two decades. Riverside age discrimination attorneys know it’s only likely to get worse as the population ages. People are working well into their 70s and even 80s, unlike generations past, which means there is greater competition for jobs. By 2022, Generation Z will be hitting the workforce, setting the stage for even fiercer competition.
In yet another recent California age discrimination claim, 18 plaintiffs allege they were targeted for their age, wrongly accused of “not meeting goals,” forced to give up client bases (which were then handed to younger insurance agents) and then either wrongfully terminated or forced to resign. One insurance agent was reportedly told he could work until he retired, but that he’d be forced to give up his client base – after 35 years of service as an agent for the same company. Plaintiffs are also alleging they were wrongfully characterized as independent contractors, despite the fact that the company controlled nearly every aspect of their daily work (a significant factor in the determination of whether someone is or is not an independent contractor).
The federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) offers protection for workers over the age of 40 from workplace discrimination based on age. Despite this, officials with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission referred to the problem of age discrimination as an “open secret,” and has vowed to target the issue aggressively this year and perhaps beyond. Continue reading
As the #MeToo movement has proven, it’s tough being a woman in the workplace, particularly working in a male-dominated field. Even tougher, it seems, is the discrimination women face as they get older and try to maintain their standing in their professional careers. Many face a different set of standards as they age than their male counterparts, according to an examination by Forbes. Men’s age is often seen as a symbol of experience, status, wisdom, and leadership capabilities. Even if they lack the modern skills some younger people bring to the workforce, they are typically valued for the knowledge they can share with those inexperienced in the field. For women, though, their age can be construed as a sign that they are outdated, out-of-touch, and lacking technical abilities. Sadly, physical appearance is frequently a factor is these discriminatory practices, with men’s appearances being viewed more favorably as they age.
Ageism and sexism run deep in our society, so some might not even be aware they are mentally perceiving their employees differently. But hidden biases are not an excuse to give employees unequal treatment. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, Sec. 623 clearly states it is unlawful to fail or refuse to hire someone because of their age, or to discriminate in any way including compensation or terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. The law also prohibits classifying or segregating an employee in such a way that deprives them of opportunities other employees enjoy as a result of his or her age. Reduction of wages due to a person’s age is also illegal. Of course consideration of a person’s sex was already prohibited in workplace hiring, firing, and promotion matters based on Title VII of the civil rights Act of 1964.
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
Two years after an initial complaint alleging age discrimination, a state records office has agreed to settle with a former applicant for $60,000. Plaintiff alleged the records office in Pennsylvania refused to hire him because he was 55 when he sought an appeals officer position.
The complaint was filed with assistance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), after the attorney, formerly employed by the Human Relations Commission for nearly two decades, sought a spot with the state records division.
In the midst of the interview, the director openly expressed concern that plaintiff would soon be retiring. A woman who had just turned 40 was later hired for the post, according to PennLive.com. Continue reading
But it would seem we still have a long way to go on this front.
A new study – one of the biggest ever on age discrimination – has revealed that in terms of hiring, the problem persists to this day and that it’s on the whole far worse for women than men. Continue reading
But his was just one of nearly a dozen employment lawsuits brought against Daimler Trucks North America over the last few years. Last September, two $1 million lawsuits filed were brought by two different African American woman who alleged they were subjected to racially hostile work conditions. They asserted they have been targeted by co-workers since the 1990s with racially insulting graffiti, language and even threats of violence. Chicken bones would be stuffed in their lockers and nooses displayed in work areas. On top of that, supervisors reportedly constantly questioned their work and made rude comments and filed groundless complaints.
Earlier in 2015, the company agreed to pay $2.4 million to settle complaints from six former workers who alleged they were the subject of homophobic and racist slurs, threats and Nazi graffiti. The following month, four current and former African American employees filed a $9.5 million lawsuits against the firm, alleging they were greeted with “Heil Hitler” salutes, nooses and general harassment at work. Then in April 2015, an engineer, 75 and born in Egypt, filed an employment lawsuit for $2 million, saying his supervisor often made fun of him and called him “bin Laden” in front of clients and co-workers. In July 2015, an Asian American data center manager, 40, filed a $250,000 lawsuit alleging he was mistreated due to both his age and race and that promotions were given to less qualified, younger white workers while he was passed over. Continue reading