Obama’s Misguided Plan to Boost Diversity Through Age Discrimination

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.

President Barack Obama signed an executive order in 2010 that permits the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to  bypass older workers and hire “recent graduates.” The regulations went into effect on July 10, 2012.

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.

 Obama’s strategy is counter intuitive. Discrimination cannot be contained in neat little categories. Age discrimination builds on race and sex discrimination. This is why women, especially minority women, are the most prone to poverty in their old age. Obama’s approach simply kicks the can down the road. Continue reading “Obama’s Misguided Plan to Boost Diversity Through Age Discrimination”

The Marginalization of Older Workers

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 tonoworkplacediscriminationtal 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.

A right that is not enforced is an illusion.

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”

Will Apathy Kill POWADA Again This Year?

U.S. SenateHere we go again. U.S. Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) have introduced the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act (POWADA) for consideration in the Senate to reverse a 2009 Supreme Court decision that made it much harder for workers to prove they are victims of age discrimination.

The original POWADA was introduced in 2009 but – for reasons that defy explanation – Congress has failed to act on the measure. There does not appear to be any objection the POWADA, which would merely restore the status quo that existed for two decades prior to the 2009 ruling. The POWADA is simply ignored year after year, even as older workers suffer epidemic levels of age discrimination in employment.

Older workers have been second-class citizens in the U.S. legal system since 2009.

The unfair and unjust treatment of age discrimination victims prompted my 2014 book, Betrayed: The Legalization of Age Discrimination in the Workplace, which advocates for the immediate adoption of the POWADA. In the long run, I propose making age a protected class under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, color and national origin.

What about this year? Does the POWADA stand any chance of being passed by both houses of Congress and  signed into law by the President Obama? Continue reading “Will Apathy Kill POWADA Again This Year?”

Here’s Something Laughable – The DOL Celebrates National Employ Older Workers Week

An outdated web site and budget cuts tell the true story about the Obama administration’s commitment to helping older workers.

Yes, this is the same DOL that is supporting a national campaign of age discrimination in hiring.

The Obama administration and U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez are  engaged in an unprecedented assault on he Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967.  President Barack Obama in 2010 signed an executive order that permits federal agencies to discriminate against older workers.  Perez recently endorsed an effort by a coalition of America’s largest corporations that blatantly discriminates in hiring against older workers.

In its press release, the DOL notes that National Employ Older Workers Week, is held annually the last full week of September to  recognize the “vital role of older workers in the workforce.”

The DOL applauds the word of its Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP), which provides on-the-job skills training to individuals 55 or older with limited financial resources. But does the DOL really value the SCSEP? The program states on its web page (last updated in November 2013) that its  2013 budget  ($424,804,974) represents a five-percent decrease from PY 2012. 

The SCSadieSEP’s web site features a photo of a woman sitting behind an ancient computer. The caption reads: “Sadie has gained valuable computer skills through her participation in SCSEP.”  A demonstration of the “vital role” of older workers?

Supposedly SCSEP has helped a million older workers get jobs “since its inception.”  The DOL press release  fails to note the date of  SCSEP’s inception and the date is not listed on the program overview page on SCSEP’s outdated web site.  The SCSEP states it places participants, who work an average of 20 hours a weeks for the federal minimum wage, at non-profit and public facilities, including day-care centers, senior centers, schools and hospitals.So let’s all celebrate  National Employ Older Workers Week.

Let’s invite the U.S. Congress, which has failed for six years to pass the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act. 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 Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act (POWADA) is a proposed law that would remove some of the ruinous damage that the U.S. Supreme Court has inflicted on the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967.

And don’t forget the AARP, which is making record profits selling health insurance and other products to older Americans while doing little or nothing for the past 50-years about unabashed and blatant  age discrimination in hiring and employment in the United States.

The DOL estimates that workers 55 and over will make up 25% of the U.S. civilian labor force by 2020, up from 13% in 2000. The DOL notes the number of workers over the traditional retirement age of 65 is seeing a marked increase, and i this group will make up more than seven percent of the American labor force by 2020.

We can all rest safely knowing that the DOL is on the job!

Labor Day: Not Much to Celebrate for Older Workers

United States Flag

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.

I could go on but you get the idea.  In my book, Betrayed: The Legalization of Age Discrimination in the Workplace, I advocate scrapping the ADEA and adding age as a protected class under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Library of Congress refuses to catalog my book, to make it available to policy-makers, because it is self-published. Sigh.  If you know a Congressional representative, spread the word.

If older workers and older Americans do not find real advocates in the coming year, it is very likely that nothing will change.