Spotlighting workplace discrimination targeting older workers

On Behalf of | Apr 5, 2021 | Employment Law

Like every incoming American president, Joe Biden brings some specific and singular attributes to the job. One of them is his age. The nation’s 46th president is 78 years old, which makes him the oldest elected national leader in the country’s history.

That factual tidbit might reasonably not mean much to legions of Americans, but it has certainly registered with one specific demographic. Namely, that comprises many people from the country’s vast working pool of older workers.

“Trust me,” says one medical analyst. “Biden’s age has not gone unnoticed.”

That could be a good thing, given a number of relevant points linked with age considerations in work environments spanning the country.

Why does age surface as a key on-the-job issue?

Consider this: About 25% of the American workforce is reportedly 55 years of age or older. That robust job presence renders relatively older workers a potent national force. Here is something to consider in tandem: The older-worker demographic comprises many millions of individuals who possess a unique level of invaluable skills and experience.

Notwithstanding older workers’ unquestioned job value, though, empirical evidence underscores apparent ageism in the workforce marked by employers’ discrimination against mature employees. This workplace wrong has long been addressed by a host of federal, state and local laws.

A strong current focus: the Age Discrimination in Employment Act

The ADEA has been protective federal labor legislation since the 1960s. Its implementation followed upon the heels of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and it’s created job safeguards based on a number of protected categories. Age was not specifically referenced under the seminal Title VII protections of the act, and the ADEA took care of that.

As a recent national article stresses, though, many advocates and commentators think that the ADEA has lost some of its protective potency in recent years and needs some shoring up. They point specifically to a 2009 U.S. Supreme Court ruling stipulating that any worker alleging age-based discrimination must prove that age was the sole reason for disparate treatment.

Critics find that to be an onerously high and unfair hurdle to clear. In fact, advocates like the AARP are pushing for new legislation that would remove any “but-for” requirement.

Ultimately, that might prove unnecessary, states one law school professor who studies workplace law and discrimination. He says that “there is a good chance the Supreme Court would [simply] change its mind” if asked to consider a less confining interpretation by the new presidential administration.

Time will tell, of course.

Age discrimination in Milwaukee workplaces and other job venues spanning Wisconsin is both unethical and illegal, and targeted employees have strong rights and legal remedies against unlawful employer behavior. The proven and empathetic employment law attorneys at Alan C. Olson & Associates can help discrimination victims take action to secure accountability and maximum recoveries against wrongdoing.

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