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Forbes: as economy slows, age discrimination accelerates

In a recent column for Forbes, Wecruitr CEO Jack Kelly points out that in the ongoing pandemic-fueled recession, some employers are engaging in age discrimination by firing experienced employees to replace them with younger, cheaper workers.

Kelly notes that even "before the Covid-19 pandemic, there were fast-growing trends that greatly endangered the careers of older workers." The motivation, of course, is to cut costs by cutting relatively well-compensated workers in their 40s, 50s and 60s.

He writes that layoffs and terminations of older workers come in several forms, including "juniorization": the downgrading of positions so that experienced employees are overqualified to hold them. Management believes young, cheap replacements are so "filled with enthusiasm and energy finally having their foot in the door" that they "will run through brick walls for the hiring manager."

Another way to get rid of older, more expensive workers: relocation. Big savings can be had by moving positions to lower-cost cities (or even less costly countries), slashing expenses such as salaries, taxes and office space.

Yet another tactic: elimination of positions. Many companies dispense with middle-aged middle managers by simply eliminating their positions in corporate reorganizations. Afterwards, junior workers report directly to executives, complicating and increasing everyone's workload, but beefing up the bottom line.

Of course, these tactics can violate the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and the Wisconsin Fair Employment Act that protect workers age 40 and older from workplace discrimination.

Milwaukee's efforts to spur tech company growth and encourage start-ups here made Kelly's references to problems in that industry particularly interesting. Recall that a year ago, Google settled an age discrimination lawsuit by 200-plus job applicants for $11 million.

IBM faces a class-action lawsuit by former employees alleging age discrimination. They say that when the company slashed more than 20,000 workers, more than 60 percent of those fired were over the age of 40.

If you have been fired or denied a job, promotion or pay raise by a Milwaukee employer because of your age, contact the law office of Alan C. Olson and Associates.

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