The EEOC has a new feature on its website called Faces of the ADEA that celebrates the stories of a half-dozen victims of age discrimination who were helped by the EEOC.
In reality, the vast majority of age discrimination victims – tens of thousands of older workers – who have sought justice from the EEOC in the past decade found a deaf ear. Meanwhile, age discrimination in employment – particularly in hiring – has been overt, unaddressed and epidemic.
Nothing in the EEOC’s new strategic plan for 2018-2022 specifically indicates the EEOC intends to improve its pathetic response to age discrimination in the years ahead but there is one glimmer of hope.
In its new strategic plan, the EEOC announced it will conduct on-site program evaluations of several federal agencies this year “that have been identified through the integrated data system” (i.e. that generate the most discrimination complaints). The EEOC will “issue compliance plans that recommend changes in their employment practices.” The EEOC will review the agency’s implementation of the compliance plans and if their efforts found wanting take “corrective action” if necessary.
Perhaps the worst age discriminator in the United States – in terms of scope and impact – is the U.S. government, which is also the nation’s largest employer.
The EEOC acknowledges the federal sector is an “integral part” of combating employment discrimination because it has “tremendous influence” over the employment practices of private and public employers in the United States and around the world. The EEOC says the promotion of equal employment opportunity in the federal government can “positively impact all employees and job-seekers.”
This represents a distinct change of attitude for the EEOC, which has ignored age discrimination by the federal government for years.
This blog in 2013 became a lonely voice in opposition of an executive order signed by former Democratic President Barack Obama that effectively amended the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) to allow federal agencies to discriminate on the basis of age. The EEOC was conspicuously silent when Obama signed the order in 2010 and when it went into effect in 2012. So far, the Office of Program Management’s Pathways “Recent Graduates” Program has barred older workers from applying for more than 100,000 federal jobs. The EEOC also buried its head in the sand when Obama’s Secretary of Labor Tom Perez endorsed a hiring initiative that permitted America’s largest corporations to engage in age discrimination in hiring.
It was revealed last year that the EEOC’s appellate unit, the Office of Federal Operations, dismissed two age discrimination complaints against federal agencies that hired younger workers and bypassed older workers on purely subjective grounds (i.e., poise, “cultural fit” , etc).
The EEOC ‘s failure to aggressively enforce the ADEA has flown under the radar for years. One reason is that the EEOC’s actions are secret unless the EEOC chooses to make them public or the complainant does. Many complainants fear publicity will hinder their chances of finding new employment.
In addition, older Americans lack a strong public voice. The AARP is apparently too busy making billions from licensing agreements that exploit its membership base. And the media has widely ignored the problem while it engaged in wholesale age discrimination itself .
Last year marked the 50th anniversary of the ADEA.