Another Way to Get Rid of an Older Worker

skiA New Jersey appeals court has dismissed an age discrimination lawsuit filed by a woman who was fired from her job  at Mountain Creek Resort in Vernon, NJ a few hours after she “raised her voice” at her boss upon learning she had to work on Christmas Eve.

A two-judge panel of the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey recently refused to reinstate a lawsuit filed by Karen Murphy, who was fired at the age of 58 after working in the accounts payable department at the resort for 16 years. The lawsuit was originally dismissed on a pre-trial motion for summary judgment filed by the resort.

Appellate Division Judges Harry Carroll and Hany Mawla concluded that Murphy  offered “no evidence” that her termination was motivated by age discrimination.

Murphy was fired on Dec. 11, 2012 a few hours after she “raised her voice” at her supervisor, Lindsey Spasova, upon learning that she would have to work on Christmas Eve. Murphy also asserted that younger workers in her department formed “cliques” and that she was excluded from their groups. Continue reading “Another Way to Get Rid of an Older Worker”

Communications Union Attacks Facebook Ads that Discriminate based on Age

FacebookA major lawsuit has been filed against a class of “hundreds” of American employers that allegedly “routinely” exclude older workers from receiving employment and recruitment ads on Facebook.

The lawsuit, filed by the Communications Workers of America in the U.S. District Court of Northern California, specifically names three plaintiffs, T-Mobile USA, Inc., Amazon com, Inc. and Cox Media Group, LLC.

The union seeks seek an injunction “to stop America’s leading companies from engaging in unlawful age discrimination in employment.”

According to the lawsuit, Facebook requires employers or employment agencies seeking to post job advertisements to select the age range of Facebook users who will be eligible to receive the ad. The lawsuit alleges that employers routinely target users who are under the age of forty.

This is the latest in a series of lawsuits filed to halt the use of Internet screening tools that target younger workers and screen out older workers.

Continue reading “Communications Union Attacks Facebook Ads that Discriminate based on Age”

Media Ignores ADEA’s 50th Anniversary. Surprised?

paperboyHere are the results of a Google search of media outlets for news articles on the 50th anniversary of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), the federal law  that  prohibits consideration of age as a factor in hiring and employment. The search was conducted on mid-day Friday, the very day that Congress passed the ADEA 50 years ago.

December15, 2017

When the full name of the ADEA was spelled out, there was one result – a link to a 21-hour old video message by EEOC Acting Chair Victoria Lipnic.

In short, the 50th anniversary of the ADEA went uncelebrated and ignored by the major media in the United States, which should not come as a complete surprise. Continue reading “Media Ignores ADEA’s 50th Anniversary. Surprised?”

The EEOC’s Predicament with Respect to the ADEA’s 50th Anniversary

EEOC50ADEAPity the poor EEOC.

The EEOC is in the painful position of having to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, which the EEOC has failed to aggressively enforce and arguably violates itself. The U.S. Congress passed the ADEA on December 15, 1967.

This important anniversary of the ADEA also shines a spotlight on how the EEOC has  failed millions of older Americans who became victims of age discrimination in employment during and since the Great Recession.

Yet, the EEOC must go through the motions. That is the least that is expected of the agency that is responsible for enforcing the ADEA.

So the EEOC has adopted a handsome marketing logo, Ability Matters – Not Age, and the agency is purporting on Twitter to “count down” to the big day on Friday .

The modern history of the ADEA shows that a law does not yield justice if it is not enforced.

Continue reading “The EEOC’s Predicament with Respect to the ADEA’s 50th Anniversary”

Another Example of Age Discrimination in the Digital Age

EditorialTeam.The Information
Staff at The Information

Is it any wonder that older people are almost invisible in society today, except for their reliance upon adult diapers, anti-depressants and “Help! I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up!”  buttons?

The Information, a New York-based technology web site and magazine start-up,  has rolled out a new subscription plan for people aged 30 and under.

The “Young Professional Plan” offers a discounted rate to the magazine, and a low-cost “all-access plan” and the opportunity to join “a Facebook group only for people 30 and under.”

CEO Jessica E. Lessin, who founded the magazine in 2013, said the plan is “designed to serve people who are early in their careers and haven’t reached their earning potential and are looking for events where they can meet people from outside their own companies.” Lessin is described as a former Wall Street Journal writer “with family money.”

How would Ms. Lessin feel about a networking opportunity for only male professionals?

Continue reading “Another Example of Age Discrimination in the Digital Age”

The New Yorker Wimps Out on Age Discrimination

An article on ageism in the November 20 issue of The New Yorker is oddly detached and completely misses the point.

For one thing, The New Yorker fails in the article, Why Ageism Never Gets Old,  to comprehend perhaps the major reason that age discrimination does not get old.  Age discrimination has its roots in the human psyche but is systematically carried out by individuals, public agencies and private sector employers who have little reason to fear legal consequences.

Age discrimination is rooted in the human psyche but is systematically carried out by employers with little reason to fear legal consequences.

Continue reading “The New Yorker Wimps Out on Age Discrimination”

Old Men and Sexual Harassment

Why are so many perpetrators of sexual harassment old men in $500 suits?

Michigan Democratic Rep. John Conyers, Jr., is 88.  Television personalities Charlies Rose and Bill O’Reilly are aged 75 and 68, respectively. Michigan Democratic Senator Al Franken, is 66.  Former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice and would-be Republican Senator Roy Moore is 70. Hollywood movie producer  Harvey Weinstein is 65.  Etc.

It is not coincidental that so many  harassers are older. After-all, it usually takes many years to become rich and powerful. However, the age of harassers is incidental. It’s the $500 suit (a metaphor for money and power) that really matters.

Sexual harassment is an abuse of power. Hence, few CEOs file sexual harassment complaints.

Many of the politicians and personalities who were unmasked as harassers in recent months are deeply entrenched in  positions of power.  They use that power in two ways –  to abuse people with less power and to protect themselves from any consequences arising from their bad behavior. They know the system works to protect them, and not the targets of their abuse.

The “system” protects those in power – not their victims.

Continue reading “Old Men and Sexual Harassment”

U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging Neglects its History of Advocacy for Older Workers

In the past, the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging has been an advocate for older workers who are faced with age discrimination in employment.

However, the committee has done nothing about age discrimination in employment in recent years, even though millions of older workers lost their jobs and savings after Wall Street collapsed and were forced into a premature and impoverished retirement.

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-ME, the chairperson of the committee, has yet to respond to a plea to address the failure of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission  (EEOC) to enforce the Age Discrimination in Employment Act a (ADEA) and its inequitable treatment of older workers.

The EEOC filed two lawsuits with age discrimination claims in 2016, a year in which it received more than 20,000 complaints of age discrimination. After much criticism, the EEOC filed 12 lawsuits with age discrimination claims in Fiscal 2017 but that is still far below its historical record. The EEOC filed 87 lawsuits with age discrimination claims a decade ago, and 120 lawsuits with age discrimination claims in 1993.

The EEOC has demonstrated gross unfairness – if not actual age discrimination – against older workers in its decision-making.

Continue reading “U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging Neglects its History of Advocacy for Older Workers”

Senate Aging Committee asked to Investigate EEOC’s Inequitable Treatment of Age Discrimination Cases

This blog has asked the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging to investigate the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for essentially discriminating against older workers in the adjudication of age discrimination complaints.

The EEOC recently dismissed two cases where highly qualified older job applicants were passed over for far less qualified workers under the age of 40 (some were recent graduates). The EEOC ruled that it is not illegal for employers to make hiring decisions based entirely on subjective considerations (i.e., cultural fit).  The EEOC offered no legal support for this position, which is contrary to the EEOC’s position in race discrimination cases and well established law. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2006  that an employer’s failure to hire a candidate who is significantly better qualified for a job may raise an inference of illegal discrimination.

The EEOC also ignored serious procedural irregularities by the federal hiring agencies in both cases.

The Senate Special Committee on Aging, chaired by Maine Sen. Susan M. Collins, is authorized to conduct oversight of federal programs and to investigate reports of fraud and waste. In the past, the Committee has championed the rights of age discrimination victims.

For years, the EEOC has all but ignored its Congressional mandate to enforce the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA). The EEOC received more than 20,000 complaints of age discrimination in 2016 –  almost a quarter of all  of the complaints filed with the EEOC that year -but filed only two lawsuits with “age discrimination claims.” The EEOC was taunted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in 2015 for operating a hiring program that discriminates on the basis of age.

When President Lyndon Johnson signed the ADEA fifty years ago, he said its sole purpose was to ensure the most qualified candidate gets the job. The ADEA prohibits using age as a factor in employment decisions except in very limited circumstances that are not relevant to the two cases in question.

Cultural Fit

In August, the EEOC upheld a decision by Carlton M. Hadden, Jr., the director of the EEOC’s Office of Federal Operations, to dismiss an age discrimination case where a middle-aged male hiring officer for the Social Security Administration (SSA) testified he ignored objective qualifications and hired four applicants under the age of 40 based on his perception of how well they would fit within the culture of the office.  The complaint was filed in 2011 by a 60-year-old female attorney who was not selected, despite having what the hiring officer admitted were superior qualifications when compared to most or all of the successful candidates. Initially the hiring officer said she lacked enthusiasm during a 20 minute telephone interview.

The EEOC’s ruling conflicts with a guidance published by the EEOC in 2006 that states hiring based on cultural fit is discriminatory in the context of race.  Even the business community knows that hiring based on cultural fit is fraught with potential for prejudice and bias.

The EEOC also failed to punish the SSA for violating its legal obligation to insure the investigation of the age discrimination complaint was fair and impartial. Hadden acknowledged that SSA attorneys “improperly” interfered in the investigation of the case in violation of EEOC Directive  for 29 C.F.R. Part 1614 (EEO MD-110) at Chapter 1, Section  IV.  However, Hadden merely reminded the SSA to be “careful to avoid even the appearance that it is interfering with the EEO process.”

Intangibles

In the second case, Hadden ruled that a 48-year-old white male police detective who had 20 years of high-level experience in law enforcement, failed to show he was more qualified for promotion to the position of lead officer at a Texas veteran’s  center than a female African-American in her 20s whose experience was limited to a stint in the Army military police. Hadden writes that the female candidate “arguably has more experience in the intangible areas sought by the (hiring panel), such as poise, compassion, leadership potential, and the ability to cope with stress…”  So-called intangibles like “poise” and “compassion” are  similiar to “cultural fit” in that they are subjective assessments that are prone to conscious and subconscious bias.

It is well established in the law that an employer’s reliance on subjective criteria for significant personnel decisions may be viewed as circumstantial evidence of discrimination.*

Hadden also disregarded evidence that the veteran’s center violated its own regulations and union Collective Bargaining Agreement in the hiring proces. Hadden said the complainant failed to prove the veteran’s center “intended” to discriminate when it failed to follow the rules.Courts generally consider an employer’s failure to follow its own rules in employment matters to be evidence of discrimination.**

Since the EEOC operates in virtual secrecy, the public has no way to know how many age discrimination complaints have been dismissed by the EEOC on spurious grounds.

EEOC decisions typically are shrouded in secrecy.  The complainant in the SSA hiring case spoke up and the EEOC published Hadden’s decision in the veteran’s center case in a recent digest of EEOC decisions, presumably to serve as precedent to follow in future cases. Continue reading “Senate Aging Committee asked to Investigate EEOC’s Inequitable Treatment of Age Discrimination Cases”

Affirmative Action, Courtesy of the EEOC

It appears the EEOC’s appellate unit , and the EEOC, are engaged in an unofficial form of affirmative action that benefits young people at the expense of older workers.

The EEOC in recent weeks ignored legal precedent and dismissed two age discrimination complaints filed by highly-qualified older job applicants who were passed over for far less qualified  workers under the age of 40 (some were recent graduates). In both cases, the EEOC also ignored serious procedural irregularities by the hiring agencies.

In one  case, a hiring officer for the Social Security Administration said he discounted qualifications altogether and hired four applicants under the age of 40 based on his perception of cultural fit. Even the business community knows that hiring based on cultural fit is an invitation to bias.

In the other case, Carlton M. Hadden, Jr., director of the EEOC’s Office of Federal Operations,  ruled a 48-year-old white male police detective, who had 20 years of high-level experience in law enforcement, failed to show he was more qualified for a lead officer position at a Texas veteran’s hospital than a female African-American in her 20s whose experience was limited to a stint in the Army military police. Hadden wrote in his decision that the female candidate “arguably has more experience in the intangible areas sought by the (hiring panel), such as poise, compassion, leadership potential, and the ability to cope with stress…”  In any other type of discrimination case, it would be apparent that this is a subjective assessment that is prone to bias.

The EEOC is charged by Congress with implementing federal law –  including the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 – not pursuing its own vision of generational and racial justice.

Continue reading “Affirmative Action, Courtesy of the EEOC”