Older workers facing discrimination with less protection

The number of older workers is on the rise, but so are claims of age discrimination. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act protects workers who are 40 and older from age discrimination, but the fastest-growing group of workers is at least 65 years old. Older people in Arizona may be more likely to keep working past traditional retirement age than previous generations, but they also face hurdles in the workplace.

Employers continue to prioritize hiring millennials and to measure success by how much recruiting they can do in this age group. They may conceal their intentions by using phrases such as "fun" to describe the workplace, specifying a maximum number of years of experience desired or by saying older workers are overqualified. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, older women and minorities are more likely to file claims than in the past.

With an amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act in 1991, Congress put the greater burden on employers to prove they were not discriminating against protected classes that included race, national origin, religion or sex. However, a Supreme Court case in 2009 established that this did not apply in age discrimination cases. Lawmakers are attempting for the third time to pass legislation that would extend more protection to older workers. The bipartisan bill is known as the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act.

People who are facing age discrimination on the job or any other kind of discrimination in the workplace might want to consult an attorney about their rights and how to pursue a discrimination claim. The discrimination might happen in the hiring process or during the job itself. Employers often try to claim that an employee who was disciplined or fired for discriminatory reasons actually had performance issues, or they may introduce requirements that are difficult for older workers to fulfill.

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