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Celebration muted on anniversary of federal age discrimination protection

When married couples reach their 50th anniversary, family and friends gather in celebration of the golden event. Few people are organizing parties to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the passing of the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act, however.

Recognition of the landmark 1967 legislation might be muted because employees today can still face age discrimination in the workforce, an employment law attorney wrote recently in a newspaper column.

The law is clear: job applicants and employees age 40 and above cannot be discriminated against on the basis of age by companies that have 20 or more employees.

And yet, when the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) convened a panel of experts to discuss age discrimination, the federal agency was told that "persistent age discrimination and stereotypes about older workers continue to channel older workers out of the workforce, limiting further economic growth."

AARP told the EEOC that the problem is widespread: almost two-thirds of workers from 55 to 64 identify age as a hindrance to landing a job.

The employment law attorney who wrote the column shared an anecdote about a human resources employee who heard complaints from her company's CEO after an older woman was hired. The CEO said younger women won't want to work at the firm when they see the older woman in the cafeteria.

That kind of attitude can help make office life miserable for an older worker.

To discuss discrimination in the workplace on the basis of age, gender, race, pregnancy or religion, contact a Milwaukee law firm experienced in protecting workers' rights.

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