Post from Acting Chair Victoria A. Lipnic - May 2018
In 2018, we frequently hear encouraging slogans such as "70 is the new 50" (fill in your own favorite numbers as you wish!). But all too often we see the discouraging reality that being over 40 can be the "new ancient." It seems in some employment sectors, the assumption is that you can't be "cutting edge" if you're not young - only a dull blade. And equally disturbing, too many older Americans face discrimination based on these outdated notions with the assumptions understood rather than spoken.
Last December marked the 50th anniversary of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Yet fifty years later, EEOC receives charges of age discrimination on a daily basis, and the need for us to continue to identify and stop age discrimination in the workplace - and obtain justice for its victims - is all too real. Here are just a few examples of recent cases where EEOC was able to identify and remedy discrimination against older workers:
And it's not only big class cases that make a difference. The EEOC continues to fight for the rights of all older workers to be free of discrimination based on age:
Combating age discrimination can present special hurdles for us as an enforcement agency. Age discrimination can be harder to prove than other forms of discrimination, and in our youth-focused culture, stereotypes that lead to age discrimination are more persistent than many others. Too many supervisors who wouldn't dream of discriminating against anyone because of their race, sex, or religion seem to think it's ok to assume that older workers just don't or can't "get it" when it comes to understanding technology or "thinking outside the box".
We are cautiously optimistic of signs that an increasing number of employers (and society in general) are "getting it" and realizing that discrimination based on someone's age is not only legally but morally wrong. Let's keep that trend moving forward. As I said last year during our commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the ADEA, "My wish for the ADEA@50 is for all of us to remember, ability matters - not age."
Put another way, employment justice is an idea that ages well.