Some blame the sluggish economy, while others blame a society increasingly obsessed with age. Regardless, the fact that older workers are having an increasingly difficult time finding work and staying in the positions they have already secured is undeniable. While unacceptable, age discrimination in hiring and general employment is all too common in America today.
AARP, an organization dedicated to the lives of Americans over 49 years of age, recently released survey results related to ageism in the nation's workforce. The goal of the survey was initially to determine whether America's elderly population supports bipartisan legislation aimed at ending age discrimination in employment.
Ultimately, nearly four in five elderly people do support such bipartisan efforts. However, the survey revealed far more than this population's broad support for the "Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act."
First, well over half of respondents believe that workers over the age of 50 face discrimination in employment. Additionally, more than one-third of respondents know someone who has personally experienced this kind of discrimination since the economy slowed in 2008.
These beliefs and personal connections are well-founded. In 2011 alone, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission received nearly 23,500 age-related employee complaints. This number represents a significant increase from the 16,548 age-related employee complaints it received in 2006.
Age discrimination is generally prohibited in all employment contexts. The AARP survey unfortunately confirms that older workers are subjected to illegal practices at significant rates. Hopefully Congress will pass heightened age discrimination protection as soon as possible in order to address this unjust situation.
Source: Forbes, "Fighting Age Discrimination: New AARP Survey," Kerry Hannon, June 21, 2012