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.
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.
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.
The U.S. Supreme Court this week declined to resolve a federal circuit split on the question of whether plaintiffs suing for age discrimination or retaliation can recover punitive damages and damages for pain and suffering.
The Court denied certiorari in a case filed by Susan L. Vaughan, 54, a former nurse supervisor who sued Anderson Regional Medical Center in Mississippi for wrongful termination under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967.
At the hospital’s request, a federal judge dismissed Vaughan’s claim for compensatory and punitive damages for retaliatory discharge. Currently age discrimination victims are limited to monetary loss only .
The issue harkens back to Congress’ decision in 1964 to exclude age as a protected class in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, color and national origin. Title VII’s plaintiffs are entitled to seek compensatory and punitive damages.
Here’s another case that illustrates the type of unconventional “justice” that is being meted out by the EEOC these days.
A veteran white male police officer, 48, was passed over for the position of lead police officer at the Dallas Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Dallas, TX.
An African-American female “in her 20s” whom the EEOC agreed had spent “a relatively brief time in the workforce” was rated as the top candidate. Her experience was as a military police sergeant in a combat zone in Afghanistan. She got the job.
The complainant was working as a senior detective at the center. His experience included service as a Sargent in the Army military police and ten years as a deputy sheriff and lead detective. He had become certified as a Dallas police officer so he would be knowledgeable about local issues. And he received several commendations by the department.
The hiring panel, which consisted of three Lieutenants, unanimously ranked the female as the top candidate out of a field of 13.
The complainant argued the veterans administration implemented a selection process that was pretext “to permit the selection of a younger minority candidate regardless of the candidate’s qualifications.” Among other things, he said, the administration failed to follow promotion criteria outlined in its regulations and in its Collective Bargaining Agreement with the Union.
Furthermore, he said the Assistant Chief, and not the Chief, was the actual selecting official and made comments about his age. He said other candidates felt the process was unfair and a veteran Sargent and other unnamed witnesses told him “the Agency was deliberately seeking to fill the position with an individual of a specific race or gender.”
In August, EEOC Appeals Judge Carlton M. Hadden, director of the EEOC Office of Federal Operations, dismissed – without a hearing – the male officer’s claim that he was a victim of race and age discrimination.
Hadden conceded the record showed the panelists were not “briefed on” promotion and interview “requirements” but said there was no evidence this omission was “motivated by discrimination.”