It is ironic that the legal profession is one of the worst in terms of adherence to the age discrimination in employment.
There are many lawsuits describing how law firms use creative means to get rid of older workers and law firms in past years have run ads that blatantly targeted new attorneys for hire, while discouraging older lawyers.
Perhaps it should be no surprise the The American Lawyer, a monthly magazine published by ALM Media in New York City, has “proudly” announced it has formed a “Young Lawyer Editorial Board.” The members “range from just a year or so out of law school to some serving as young partners in their firms.” According to the magazine’s web site: “The goal of this board is to serve as a voice for the next generation of professionals in the legal profession.”
Is there an old editorial board that is the voice of the past generation?
The U.S. Supreme Court had a choice of reviewing two cases involving age discrimination.
One involves an obscure issue. A small government agency near Tucson, AZ, is arguing it does not have to follow the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) because it has fewer than 20 employees.
The other involves the major issue of our day – systemic age discrimination in hiring. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. used internet technology from 2007 to 2010 to weed out 20,000 applications submitted by older workers for the position of sales manager and targeted workers who were “2-3 years out of college” who “easily adjusts to change.”
As an American, it is frustrating to read about the steps that Great Britain is taking to attack age discrimination in employment.
The British government is actively working to address the problem because it considers age discrimination a threat to future economic growth. The UK estimates that if everyone in the UK worked just one year longer, the country’s gross domestic product would increase by one percent.
Note to EEOC: Hiring for “cultural fit” is also frowned on by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the world’s largest HR professional society, representing 285,000 members in more than 165 countries.
In Hiring in the Age of Ageism , the SHRM advises employers to “work to structure interviews around skill sets, rather than softer ‘fit’ factors that can be a cover for discrimination. ”
A federal court judge has dismissed as unconstitutional a 2016 law that prevented the Internet Movie Database (IMDb.com) from posting the ages of actors upon request.
The law was a desperate measure to combat overwhelming age discrimination in hiring in Hollywood, where young women are routinely cast in roles opposite much older men.
U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria in San Francisco said the law violates the First Amendment rights of IMDb.com by preventing it from publishing factual information. Judge Chhabria also said the law was “underinclusive” because it bans only one kind of speaker from disseminating age-related information.
Interestingly, Judge Chhabria, who was appointed to the bench in 2014 by former President Barack Obama, opined that the problem in the entertainment industry is not age discrimination but rather sex discrimination. He said the problem was”objectifying women” and “overvaluing their looks while devaluing everything else.”
Aren’t women being treated less favorably because of their age? That’s age discrimination.
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.
The AARP has informed the U.S. Office of Management and Budget of its priorities and ensuring that older workers achieve equal justice in the workplace is not one of them.
In a Jan. 23 letter to the OMB, AARP CEO JoAnn C. Jenkins listed the following AARP priorities:
Opposing cuts to Medicare.
Preserving Medicaid and long-term services and supports for seniors, children and adults with disabilities.
Lowering prescription drug prices.
Prohibiting private insurers from overcharging older Americans because of their age. Currently, insurers can charge older Americans three times more to provide the same coverage received by younger individuals. (FYI – The AARP is reaping billions through the same of Medigap health insurance.)
Making the medical expense itemized deduction threshold from 10% to 7.5% of adjusted gross income permanent.
Preserving the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which the AARP calls a vital nutrition safety net for older Americans and low-income families.
The AARP (and the EEOC) have done virtually nothing for 50 years to combat epidemic and unaddressed age discrimination in the workplace.
Older workers have been second class citizens since the adoption of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967. The ADEA is far weaker than Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1963, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin and women. Since its adoption, the ADEA has been further eviscerated by U.S. Supreme Court rulings that make it almost impossible to prevail in an age discrimination lawsuit.
The AARP describes itself as the largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization representing the interests of Americans age 50 and older.
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.
Here’s something that will surprise no one but Washington, D.C. bureaucrats – the vast majority of older Americans claim their Social Security benefits long before they reach age 70, incurring a penalty of more than 30 percent .
Roughly three-quarters of Americans claim benefits prior to age 70 because they are not working, need the money, fear Social Security will be cut and suffer from poor health.
About 22 percent of older Americans have a gap of two or more years between retirement and claiming their Social Security Benefits. They rely upon employer-sponsored pensions and other savings to finance the delay.
These were the findings of a nationally representative survey on individuals’ claiming choices called Social Security Claiming Decisions: Survey Evidence. The survey was conducted by economists John B. Shoven of Stanford University, Sita Nataraj Slavov of George Mason University, and David A. Wise of the National Bureau of Economic Research.