Will the EEOC Start Holding Feds Accountable for Gross 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.

Age Discrimination is not a Priority for AARP (supposed “advocate for Americans 50+”)

AARPThe 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.

AARP Ignores the EEOC’s Discriminatory Rulings in Age Discrimination Cases

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.

Continue reading “AARP Ignores the EEOC’s Discriminatory Rulings in Age Discrimination Cases”

Social Security Formula Benefits the Rich & Penalizes the Poor

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.

SSA Claiming Age
Ages of those surveyed who had claimed Social Security benefits.

Continue reading “Social Security Formula Benefits the Rich & Penalizes the Poor”

MLK, the EEOC & Age Discrimination

MLKIt’s hard not to be cynical when the EEOC leadership trumpets its commitment to the ideals of Martin Luther King but ignores the reality of age discrimination in employment and, worse, engages in it.

EEOC Acting Chair Victoria Lipnic tweeted on MLK Day yesterday:

“Every day at the EEOC, we are reminded of Dr. King’s work, his vision, his prophecy. Our work is a deep part of his legacy. His call to service is what each member of the EEOC brings to our work every day.”

That’s a worthy sentiment but the EEOC has yet to walk the talk when it comes to age inequality.

Not only has the EEOC virtually ignored the problem for years but it sanctions age discrimination in hiring by the federal government and actually  engages in the practice itself, thereby undermining enforcement of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 in the private sector.

Dr. King understandably focused on the crisis of racial inequality in the United States but his appeal was based on the underlying concept of equal justice for all.  One can only wonder whether Dr. King, who was assassinated at age 39, would have recognized that age discrimination is a major hindrance to older minority group workers if he had lived. Continue reading “MLK, the EEOC & Age Discrimination”

For the “New” News Media, There is No Past, Only a Self-Congratulatory Present

pumping ironFor years, there has been litigation over the fact that the internet is being used to screen out the resumes of older workers and deposit them in a digital trash can.

But suddenly the powers that be are taking notice in the wake of a supposed investigative story on Dec. 20 by ProPublica and The New York Times about Facebook permitting employers to exclude older workers from receiving employment and recruitment ads. That’s a good thing but …

In reality, that NYT story was based largely upon a Dec. 20  federal class action lawsuit filed by the Communications Workers of America against major employers that use Facebook to screen out older job applicants. And the CWA lawsuit is the latest of several to challenge the use of internet technology to target young job applicants and screen out older job applicants.

In fact, the U.S. Supreme Court last year refused to hear a case involving a 2010 lawsuit brought by Richard Villarreal against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. , that alleged Reynolds hired recruiters to develop an algorithm that was used to screen out older applicants for job vacancies on CareerBuilder (which settled its part of the case out of court). The legal press (including me) wrote extensively about the case.. This matters because it shows that for years the government has been on notice that the internet is being used as a tool to effectuate epidemic age discrimination in hiring. Continue reading “For the “New” News Media, There is No Past, Only a Self-Congratulatory Present”

The ‘Wisdom Capital’ of Older Workers

olderworkersAn article by a Brazilian scholar argues hat older workers (age 55+) possess “wisdom capital” that is an extremely valuable asset to any organization.

Anselmo Ferreira Vasconcelos writes in Older Workers  as a Source of Wisdom Capital: Broadening Perspectives that older workers know the organizational culture better than any other group inside the company.

“They tend to keep in their minds those failures and successful ideas, projects, initiatives, and leaderships, which added or not value throughout their trajectories, as well as things that worked out or not. and are informed by the organization’s past successes and failures. Fundamentally, they are able to provide answers to vital questions,” he writes.

In an era of uncertainty and disruptions, older workers display wisdom and qualities that are “absolutely necessary” to improving organizations.

Continue reading “The ‘Wisdom Capital’ of Older Workers”

Tell the EEOC to Enforce the Age Discrimination in Employment Act!

The EEOC has to adopt a new strategic plan and is seeking comment (until 5 p.m .ET on January 8, 2018) about what it should do.

To weigh in, go here or to https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=EEOC-2017-0005-0001.

It’s your opportunity to demand that the EEOC properly enforce the Age Discrimination in  Employment Act of 1967. The Strategic Plan is a framework for the allocation of  EEOC resources. You can be sure that employers and their advocates will weigh in.

In recent years, the EEOC has become a lap dog to corporate interests.

A main focus of the EEOC today is providing free mediation to resolve discrimination complaints. Mediation outcomes almost always favor the company –  not clueless, unrepresented discrimination victims – while saving employers potentially millions of dollars. For good measure, the EEOC assures discriminatory employers anonymity so that workers back at the farm will remain ignorant.

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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”