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.
The EEOC, in recent rulings, appears to have completely subverted the stated goal of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), which is to insure the most qualified candidate gets the job.
When former President Lyndon Johnson signed the ADEA fifty years ago, qualifications referred to criteria that were largely capable of objective measurement, like education, experience and achievement.
In August, the director of the Office of Federal Operations, Carlton M. Hadden, Jr., issued at least two decisions finding no discrimination in cases where highly-qualified applicants were passed over for much younger applicants with far few objective qualifications.
Hadden ruled that a white male police detective, 48, with 20 years of high-level experience in law enforcement, failed to show he was more qualified for the position of lead police officer at the Dallas veteran’s medical center than a female African-American in her 20s whose experience was limited to a stint in the Army military police. Hadden said the female candidate “arguably has more experience in the intangible areas sought by the (hiring panel), such as poise, compassion, leadership, and the ability to cope with stress …”
Institutionalized and irrational age discrimination has crept into an unlikely sector of the U.S. government – federal funding for neuroscience research.
The National Institutes for Health (NIH) has adopted a “Next Generation Researchers Initiative” that will allocate $210 million in funding per year for the next five years ($1.1 billion) for biomedical research for early-stage and mid-career “investigators” (a.k.a. scientists).
NIH officials claim this is necessary because baby boomers refuse to retire and are crowding out younger scientists and that this threatens to deter new scientific advances in the years ahead.
It is true the scientific workforce is two or three years older today than in the past but there is no evidence that this will have any adverse impact on the pace or quality of future scientific discoveries. It also seems probable that many factors contribute to joblessness for younger scientists, including changes in funding patterns for scientific research, globalism, automation and the economy.
Using the NIH’s reasoning, taxpayers should create a special fund for newly-minted history PhD’s and law school grads, who also can’t find jobs.
A better plan would be to create an equal playing field, regardless of race, sex, religion, national origin, disability, and age. Isn’t that what Martin Luther King advocated?
In a difficult economy, generations often find themselves pitted against each other for scarce resources, including jobs. But there is a new twist to this theme today. In recent years, the U.S.government has justified age discrimination as a way of increasing “diversity” in federal hiring.
Obama said he wanted to remove “barriers” in hiring younger workers caused by civil service regulations and “to achieve a workforce that represents all segments of society.” Obama wants to “infuse” the federal government with the “enthusiasm, talents and unique perspective” of young people.
More recently, Obama’s Labor Secretary, Thomas E. Perez, publicly endorsed a private initiative by some of America’s leading corporations to blatantly violate the Age Discrimination in Employment Act by hiring 100,000 disadvantaged inner city residents between the ages of 16 and 24 for full-time and part-time jobs.
There are so many reasons why Obama’s “winners and losers” plan to boost diversity is just plain wrong.
I am struck by the almost complete lack of attention paid in the United States to the problem of age discrimination in employment.
I just watched a lengthy video on YouTube featuring Jenny Yang, chairperson of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC), addressing the recent annual meeting of the European Network of Equality Bodies (Equinet), a group that promotes equality in the European Union. She discussed 50 years of the EEOC’s history and its future goals and aspirations. She made one fleeting reference to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1964 (ADEA), noting the EEOC is responsible for enforcing the ADEA.
In 2014, a total of 20,588 complaints of age discrimination were filed with the EEOC. That represents 23.2 percent of all of the complaints of employment discrimination filed with the EEOC in 2014. And, that level of complaints has been more or less consistent for years. Age discrimination may not deserve to be the EEOC’s top priority but it should at least be on the EEOC’s radar screen.
Meanwhile, U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez has ignored age discrimination except to the extent that he endorsed it in the 100,000 Opportunities Initiative, a dubious effort by America’s major corporations to hire 100,000 workers age 16 to 24 for full and –part-time jobs in blatant violation of the ADEA.
And President Barack Obama not only forgot to bolster the ADEA but he fundamentally undermined the ADEA in 2010 when he signed an executive order that permits federal agencies to discriminate on the basis of age, thereby sending a signal to the private sector that age discrimination is A-Okay!
It is interesting to note that Equinet issued a report on ageism in 2012 in which it decried institutional practices that “include the use of age limits to govern access to services or participation in the workplace, other forms of discrimination that exclude older people from work or from key services, and inadequate policy responses to the situation of older people such that they find themselves marginalised and disadvantaged in society.” Continue reading “The Marginalization of Older Workers”
There is little for older workers to celebrate this Labor Day 2015.
In recent months, the Obama administration has escalated its unprecedented assault on the nation’s leading law prohibiting age discrimination in employment, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, blatantly favoring unemployed younger workers over unemployed older workers..
Here’s the status quo:
The U.S. government is actively engaged in age discrimination in the workplace. President Barack Obama in 2010 signed an executive order that permits federal agencies to discriminate against older workers. U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez recently endorsed an effort by a coalition of America’s largest corporations to discriminate against older workers. No one seems to care.
Congress has failed for six years to pass the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act (POWADA). As a result, it is much more difficult for older workers to prevail in an age discrimination lawsuit than it is for workers who are victims of discrimination on the basis of race, sex (including sexual preference), religion and national origin.The POWADA would remove some of the ruinous damage that the U.S. Supreme Court inflicted on the Age Discrimination in Employment Act in 2009.
No group seems to be advocating for older workers in the halls of Congress. The AARP, which describes itself as the nation’s leading advocate for Americans aged 50 and above, has seen its profits skyrocket since Obamacare was passed. But older Americans have suffered from onerous co-pays and un-reimbursed medical expenses. At this point, almost half of Americans aged 65 and above are considered “economically vulnerable.” The AARP is the leading seller of medi-gap health insurance in the United States, and has increasingly expanded its offerings to include everything from new computers to telephones. But apparently the AARP is not making enough money to fight for the passage of POWADA (see above).
Older workers are disproportionately represented in the ranks of the long-term unemployed (those workers who have been looking for work for 27 weeks or longer).Unemployed older workers are twice as likely to be chronically unemployed. Many are forced to spend down their savings, work in low-wage part-time jobs and, ultimately, retire as soon as possible to obtain Social Security benefits. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics: 22.1 percent of the unemployed under age 25 had looked for work for 27 weeks or longer in 2014, compared with 44.6 percent of those 55 years and older. One reason for this sorry state is epidemic and unaddressed age discrimination in hiring.
The Social Security Administration’s formula for dispersing Social Security benefits favors the rich and penalizes the poor (i.e. long-term unemployed who are forced into a penurious retirement due to age discrimination). Of course, women and minorities who have experienced career-long discrimination in the workplace suffer the most under this ancient benefits formula.