Age Discrimination Is Alive and Well
Here’s one for all of us who have been forced out of a job or were forced into early retirement because of our ages.
In 1974, my uncle Stephen was forced to retire at the age of 64. He was a 40-year veteran of a big-time hotel business, and his work was his life. But his employer had a rule that you had to leave at age 64. No discussion!
Unfair? Yeah, just a little.
It gets worse… Age discrimination has been illegal in this country since 1967. But you’d be hard-pressed to convince any boomers of that fact, especially if they, a friend or a relative lose their job after the age of 50.
The fact is, age discrimination is alive and well in the U.S., and it is the only kind of discrimination that is accepted and ignored by everyone.
Race and sex discrimination have been on the front burner since I was kid. Despite the fact that boomers are retiring in droves (10,000 per day) and many have to work to make it in retirement, holding or finding a job after the age of 50 is next to impossible.
Off the top of my head, I can think of two friends who lost their jobs after age 50. One is an attorney. It took him almost two years to find another job. The other, a 35-year veteran of the mutual fund business, couldn’t find another position and had to retire early.
Every thinking person knows it was their age that was the barrier.
Now, because the Gen Xers are right behind us, the numbers are just getting too big to ignore any longer. But the cavalry may finally be on the horizon.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) just closed an age discrimination case against a restaurant chain, which cost the chain $12 million. The acting chair of the EEOC, Victoria Lipnic, stated in a recent article that age is now an enforcement priority for her commission.
This shift in enforcement is too late for the three out of five of us who have been the victims of age discrimination or have seen it in action, but it’s something of a moral victory.
Years of research have shown that age is not a predictor of performance. In fact, it has been repeatedly demonstrated that the workplace wisdom older workers bring with them actually makes them more effective and efficient.
Fifty years of ignoring this travesty appears to be coming to an end.
This has to stop. Not just because it’s wrong, but also because too many boomers have to work well into their golden years and there aren’t enough Walmarts to employ all of us as greeters.