Age-based discrimination in the workplace remains disturbingly common in Arizona and around the country, according to a recently released study by the AARP. The nonprofit advocacy group asked 3,900 Americans 45 years of age or older about their work experiences, and 90 percent of them said that discrimination against older workers was commonplace. Almost two-thirds of the respondents said that they had been victims of such discrimination at least once during their careers.
Nine out of 10 of the respondents also said that they supported calls to modify and strengthen the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. The landmark bill was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson in 1967, but workers’ rights groups say that the law has been weakened in the decades since by a number of controversial court decisions. According to the AARP study, the most common forms of age-based workplace discrimination are insensitive or derogatory comments, denying promotions or other opportunities and terminating or laying off older workers.
Government data reveals that older workers also find it more difficult to find new jobs after being terminated. Only 18 percent of workers between the ages of 16 and 54 are unemployed for six months or longer after losing their jobs, but that figure jumps to an alarming one in three among workers 55 or older. When asked about this by the AARP, about one-third of the respondents voiced doubts about their chances of finding a new job quickly despite their years of experience.
The AARP study also reveals that only 3 percent of the respondents ever filed complaints or notified their HR departments about workplace discrimination. Attorneys with experience in this area may help workers who have been treated unfairly overcome any reluctance to step forward. The courts generally take laws protecting workers’ rights very seriously.