For 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 …
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 the government has been on notice for years 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 headline in a recent New York Times story was: “To Get a Job in Your 50s, Maintain Friendships in Your 40s”
Sounds promising,right? Well, there are some problems with the headline and the story that follows.
The article’s thesis – that networking with younger workers will eradicate the ravages of age discirmination in the workplace – is at best unrealistic at worst silly.
The Times misrepresents the findings of the actual study.
The conclusion of the study, a meta-analysis of existing studies called Age and Reemployment Success After Job Loss: An Integrative Model and Meta-Analysis, is as follows:
“Our findings provide evidence for a negative relationship between age and reemployment status and speed across job search decade, world region, and unemployment rate, with the strength of the negative relationship becoming stronger over age 50. Job search self-efficacy and job search intensity partially mediate the relationship between age and both reemeployment status and speed.”
The Times could have focused upon the main finding of the study, which confirms that older workers are disproportionately represented in the ranks of the long-term unemployed. The study found that job seekers over age 50 were unemployed 5.8 weeks longer than those from the ages of 30 to 49 and that number rose to 10.6 weeks when the comparison group was from 20 to 29. It appears that younger workers find jobs much more quickly than older workers and the younger the better. Instead of focusing on this clear evidence of age discrimiination in hiring, the Times chose to focus on the second finding, which it then mischaracterizes.
The authors say that some – not all – of the disparity in the time it takes older and younger workers to find new jobs can be mediated by “self-efficacy and job search intensity.” Hence the authors’ use of the word “partially.” This is a glass half full kind of thing.
How much age discrimination can not be mediated by “self-efficacy and job search intensity”?
One reason there is so little media attention to the problem of age discrimination is that the media is part of the problem.
Why is the media so oblivious to what almost anyone can see is blatant and systemic age discrimination in employment in the United States?
Could it be because media companies are employers too?
The New York Times Co. and its chief executive officer recently were sued by a former ad executive for “age, gender and race” discrimination. Tracy Quitasol, 51, said she was let go in January 2014 by her new boss, Meredith Levien, the chief revenue officer of the NTY Co. An Asian-American, Quitasol was the head of the Times’ Idea Lab, which formulates new digital advertising programs, and the executive director of product marketing and ad platform innovations.
The Times contends that Quitasol was fired for cause and that it will vigorously defend the lawsuit..
Quitasol alleges in the lawsuit that the Times conducted a downsizing in 2013 that resulted in the layoff of 30 employees who were mostly older, minority group members. In almost every case, she alleges, the employees were replaced with white employees under the age of 40.
The lawsuit states that during “two off-site meetings attended by all the advertising vice presidents, HR officials and Quitasol in September 2013, Levien said she would evaluate employees on whether they were ‘fresh to their career’ and ‘whether they have a family, what’s their situation.’” Photographs of staff members were displayed on a screen and, Quitasol alleges, Levien repeatedly said, ‘We want people to look like the people we are selling to” and asked questions clearly intended to determine the staffer’s “age, marital status and whether they had a family.”
Of course, the New York Times is not the only media outlet that faces accusations of age discrimination.