1. Inicio
  2. node
  3. A Message from EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows for Older Americans Month 2024

A Message from EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows for Older Americans Month 2024

The theme of Older Americans Month this May—Powered by Connection—invites us to consider the immense impact of interpersonal relationships and human connection on our health and life satisfaction.  As recently noted, “[w]e all search for meaning in our lives, and many of us find it through work,” which can provide a shared sense of purpose and serve as a “necessary source of connection and support.”  These concepts are profoundly relevant to the Commission's Strategic Enforcement Plan's priority to protect older workers and other vulnerable and underserved communities from employment discrimination.  

Impactful litigation is one way the Commission seeks to ensure older workers are not discriminatorily excluded from the workforce.  The EEOC’s efforts include cases like the recently resolved Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) class lawsuit against a major pharmaceutical company, EEOC v. Lilly USA, LLC, et al The company had implemented an “Early Career” hiring initiative that included goals designed to add more millennials to the company’s workforce, which resulted in older applicants being rejected for sales representative jobs.  To resolve the case, the company agreed to pay $2.4 million to compensate workers aged 40 or older who were denied jobs and end the initiative, among other relief.  In another recently resolved case, the EEOC alleged that a molecular diagnostics company and its third-party recruiter rejected a 49-year-old applicant for a sales position because of his age.  The recruiter told the applicant he was “overquali­fied” and that the company was “looking for someone more junior that can … stay with the company for years to come.”  The company agreed to pay $90,000 to the applicant and provide other relief. 

The EEOC has successfully remedied many other instances of discrimination against older workers. Among others, the EEOC recently resolved a class case for $6.875 million on behalf of physicians subjected to a mandatory retirement age; resolved a lawsuit for $206,301 against a school district that limited compensation of teachers over the age of 45 based on age; and resolved for $50,000 a lawsuit in which an amusement park denied employee housing to seasonal workers aged 40 and over.

In addition to other forms of discrimination, negative perceptions and stereotypes about older workers can also surface in the workplace in the form of unlawful harassment, as explained in the Commission’s recently published Enforcement Guidance on Harassment in the Workplace. The new, updated guidance provides examples like pressuring an older employee to transfer to a job that is less technology-focused or encouraging an older employee to retire because of the employee’s age.  It also includes an example of intersectional harassment based on age and sex, describing harassing conduct toward a woman over 50 based on her status as an older woman.

To eradicate all forms of age discrimination, the Commission continues to engage in substantial outreach and education, such as the Philadelphia District Office’s upcoming panel participation in the JEVS Human Services' Virtual Job Search Seminar, where the EEOC will focus on the ADEA and strategies to address and prevent age discrimination.  Informing older workers of their statutory rights under the ADEA and raising awareness around discriminatory policies based on age are critical to combatting age discrimination. 

As expressed in the President's 2024 Proclamation on Older Americans Month, "[o]lder Americans are the backbone of our Nation.  They have built the foundation that we all stand upon today, guided by the core values that define America — freedom, equality, decency, and opportunity.”  Today’s older Americans served on the front lines of the Civil Rights Movement and advocated tirelessly for civil rights laws, including the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act, which turns 60 this year.  At the EEOC, we honor their legacy by working to ensure the lasting impact of these vitally important and hard-won laws.


Charlotte A. Burrows (she/her/hers)


U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Enabled In-page Navigation