OPM Dismisses Complaint about OPM’s Discriminatory Hiring Program

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has dismissed a complaint filed by a New York man who was barred from applying for a federal job in 2017 because he had not graduated from college within the past two years.

Kathleen M. MGettigan, then acting director of the OPM,  stated in a 3/7/18 letter to the complainant, Brian Neary, that the OPM lacks jurisdiction “over the legality” of the Pathway’s Recent Graduates Program because it was the result of an executive order by former President Barack H. Obama.

The OPM program is an example of  systemic and institutionalized age discrimination in hiring.

Obama created the Pathways Recent Graduates Program in 2010 to serve as a back-door exemption to  Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), which expressly prohibits the consideration of age as a factor in hiring. The Pathways program is a type of  age discrimination known as  “disparate impact discrimination,” where a seemingly neutral policy has an adverse impact on older workers. The vast majority of recent graduates are under the age of 40.

It is estimated the program, which went into effect in 2012, has barred older workers from applying for 100,000 federal jobs and counting. The U.S. government is America’s largest employer.

Neary, then 49, was prohibited from applying for the position of Financial Institutions Specialist  with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation because he obtained a Masters of Business Administration more than two years prior to his application.

An only child, Neary said he was forced to leave his former employer, DLJ/ Credit Suisse, to care for his mother, who is now deceased, after she incurred congestive heart failure and other complications.

Neary said he is going to appeal the OPM’s decision to the EEOC and may file a lawsuit.

Neary sent a letter last week to Jeff T.H. Pon, newly-appointed director of the OPM,  urging him to contact President Donald Trump and encourage him to permanently revoke the Pathways Recent Graduates Program.  Until then, he asked Pon to”[b]e proactive. Unilaterally suspend the OPM Pathways Program pending his revoking President Obama’s ‘legacy’ Executive Order.”

The AARP, which claims to advocate for Americans aged 50+, has failed even to respond to Neary’s request for  assistance.   (The AARP also has completely ignored discriminatory rulings by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in age discrimination cases.)

At this point, one wonders how the AARP –  which collects dues from 38 million older Americans – defines the term”advocacy.”

It is more than a little ironic that the OPM traces its history to the Civil Service Act of 1883 , which was passed to end the corrupt spoils system of partisan hiring in the U.S. government.

Not Such a Great Time to Celebrate Older Americans Month?

Logos2Not everyone may agree that this month – which is Older Americans Month – is “the perfect time to celebrate what getting older looks like today.”

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services tells us the theme of 2017 Older American’s Month is  “Age Out Loud” to “give aging a new voice—one that reflects what today’s older adults have to say.”

Here goes …

A lot of the older Americans I know are fraught with anxiety, most recently focused on President Donald Trump’s proposed revised healthcare plan. An estimated 25 million older Americans currently live on the edge. They fear our billionaire president and the Corporate lackeys in Congress will dump them  into a penurious old age and premature death by limiting their access to quality health care.

Meanwhile, Congressional inaction continues to allow American employers to drive older Americans out of good jobs in their 40s and 50s through epidemic and unaddressed age discrimination in employment.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) was weak when it was adopted 50 years ago when compared to  Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, gender and national origin.  Since then it has been eviscerated by the U.S. Supreme Court, which has made it almost impossible to win a federal age discrimination lawsuit.

Unemployed older Americans are forced to spend down their savings and work in low-paid gigs or part-time jobs until they are 62 and qualify for Social Security, which will mean they receive significantly lower benefits  for the rest of their lives compared to richer folk who can wait longer to retire.

Women fare the worst in our rigged system. The National Council on Aging says women make $4,500 less annually in Social Security than men due to lower lifetime earnings, time taken off for caregiving, occupational segregation into lower wage work, and other issues. Older women of color fare worst of all. (SSA, 2015).

The NCOA estimates that the more than 25 million Americans aged 60+ who are economically insecure struggle with rising housing and health care bills, inadequate nutrition, lack of access to transportation, diminished savings, and job loss. For older adults who are above the poverty level, the NCOA states, one major adverse life event can change today’s realities into tomorrow’s troubles.