14th July 2014 · 0 Comments
“You’re too old – and you’re fired.”
No one deserves to be ousted from their job, passed over for promotion, or denied access to training and development opportunities because they are older. Yet 70 percent of Louisianans say based on what they’ve seen or experienced in the workplace, people over the age of 50 face age discrimination on the job.
That’s tough to hear considering that many of us will need to stay in the workforce longer to make ends meet.
In a newly released AARP survey of Louisiana’s registered voters 50 years old and older, 91 percent say it is important for Congress to take action and restore workplace protections against age discrimination.
Since the mid-1980’s, older workers have been working longer. The decline of traditional pensions, inadequate savings, and now the losses in jobs and wealth due to the Great Recession mean that millions of older Americans face a future of economic insecurity unless they are able to work.
The unemployment rate for older workers has soared in recent years, and once out of work, older jobseekers experience far longer spells of unemployment –nearly a year, on average—than their counterparts. And when they do land a new job, it’s often for less money, which can have a devastating impact on older workers’ long-term financial security and ability to live independently as they age.
If an older worker experiences age discrimination, there’s little he or she can do about it thanks to a 2009 U.S. Supreme Court ruling which changed the rules. The ruling states that workers who assert they were discriminated against because of their age would have to prove that age was the decisive factor –rather than one factor, making it far more difficult to prove their case. The burden of proof for age discrimination is far greater than that of race, religion or gender.
Every American worker deserves fair treatment in the workplace, regardless of age.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers has introduced legislation, the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act (POWADA), to restore the previous legal rules and protections that prevailed before the unfair Supreme Court decision. The legislation would help older workers remain in or reenter the workplace with greater protection against the barriers of age discrimination.
This bill is a common-sense, bipartisan solution that is essential to protecting the rights and well-being of older workers and their families.
Across party and ideological lines, older Louisianans support the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act (POWADA). In fact, according to AARP’s survey, 84 percent say they want their Member of Congress to support POWADA.
We hope Congress gets the message loud and clear. Protect every American’s right to work, no matter how old they are.
– Brenda Hatfield
This article originally published in the July 14, 2014 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.