AARP Ignores the EEOC’s Discriminatory Rulings in Age Discrimination Cases

Note: A spokesperson for the EEOC on 2/7/18 announced the EEOC has adopted a procedure to review ethical complaints against the Agency staff.  Gary J. Hozempa, a staff attorney in the EEOC Office of Legal Counsel, said he and his team are responsible for “considering ethics issues that arise in the workplace about EEOC employees.”  He saId the current head of the Office of Legal Counsel, Carol R. Miaskoff, Associate Legal Counsel, is EEOC’s Designated Agency Ethics Official.  PGB

Since EEOC decisions are secret, there is no way of telling how many older workers have had their age discrimination complaints  dismissed on spurious and discriminatory grounds.

It came to light last fall that the EEOC upheld two rulings by its appellate division dismissing age discrimination complaints where the federal government ignored objective qualifications and used purely subjective criteria (i.e., cultural fit, poise)  to make promotion and hiring decisions. The rulings contradict EEOC stated policy, EEOC rulings in race and sex discrimination cases, and settled federal case law. The rulings go beyond the EEOC’s generally dismissive treatment of age discrimination and reflect actual age bias.

Then it became apparent the EEOC is unaccountable to the public. The EEOC has no appeal process. There is no EEOC ombudsperson to investigate complaints against the agency. Incredibly, the EEOC even lacks a procedure for filing ethical complaints against the EEOC’s so-called “administrative judges.” The EEOC Office of Inspector General takes the position that it is not its job to investigate complaints related to EEOC rulings.

The AARP & EEOC declined to comment on the discriminatory rulings.

On October 22, 2017, this blog urged the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging to investigate the EEOC’s discriminatory treatment of age discrimination victims.

About a week ago, this blog reached out to the AARP, an organization that professes to advocate for Americans over the age of 50, while reaping billions in profits from its commercial exploitation of its 38 million “membership” base.

Specifically, we asked:

  • Does the AARP agree with the two EEOC decisions in age discrimination cases made public last fall in which the EEOC ruled it was permissible for federal employers to disregard objective qualifications and make decisions based entirely upon subjective criteria such as “cultural fit” and “poise”?
  • Should employers be required to consider objective qualifications in the hiring/promotion process?
  • Does the AARP feel it would be appropriate for the Senate Special Committee on Aging to investigate actual age discrimination by the EEOC,  the agency that is supposed to be implementing the Age Discrimination in Employment Act?.

 The AARP declined to answer.

For the heck of it, we asked a bonus question.
  • Why has the AARP  been silent with respect to the blatantly discriminatory hiring program operated by the U.S. Office of Program Management,  Pathway’s Recent Graduates Program, which has denied older Americans the ability to apply for almost 100,000 jobs (and counting). Again, the AARP declined to comment.
Imagine the uproar that would ensue if the EEOC ruled that an employer could reject blacks workers, homosexuals or Jewish candidates because they are a poor cultural fit or lack poise.  These groups have advocates that would at least object if the government engaged in discriminatory treatment of their members.
Is it really asking too much for the AARP to care that the EEOC has ruled that federal agencies can reject older workers because they are a poor cultural ft, lack poise or because younger workers supposedly have more enthusiasm? Even the business community knows that making hiring and promotion decisions based on subjective criteria invites bias.
Is it asking too much to expect the AARP to care that the Pathways’s Recent Graduates Program has barred 100,000 older workers from applying for jobs with the federal government, which they have supported throughout their lives with their tax dollars?
Finally, is it asking too much to expect the AARP, which accepts money from 38 million older Americans on the promise that it will advocate for them, to actually fight for equal justice for older workers?

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