A new report from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission finds that age discrimination remains too common and too accepted as outdated assumptions about older workers and their abilities persist, even though today’s experienced workers are more diverse, better educated, and working longer than previous generations.

The report commemorates the 50th anniversary of the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

“As we’ve studied the current state of age discrimination this past year in commemorating the ADEA, we’ve seen many similarities between age discrimination and harassment,” explains Acting EEOC Chair Victoria A. Lipnic, author of the report.

“Like harassment, everyone knows it happens every day to workers in all kinds of jobs, but few speak up. It’s an open secret.”

Signed into law in December 1967, the ADEA took effect in June 1968 and was an important part of 1960s civil rights legislation that was intended to ensure equal opportunity for older workers.

The law protects individuals who are 40 years of age or older from employment discrimination based on age and applies to employees and job applicants.

Under the ADEA, it is unlawful to discriminate against a person because of his/her age with respect to any term, condition, or privilege of employment, including hiring, firing, promotion, layoff, compensation, benefits, job assignments, and training.

The ADEA permits employers to favor older workers based on age even when doing so adversely affects a younger worker who is 40 or older.

Benefits of Age Diversity

Lipnic's report recognizes the similarities between age discrimination and other discrimination.

Only about 3% of those who have experienced age discrimination complained to their employer or a government agency, according to recent research.

Research shows that age diversity can improve organizational performance and lower employee turnover.
Studies find that more than three-fourths of older workers surveyed report their age is an obstacle in getting a job.

Even with a booming economy and low unemployment, older workers still report they have difficulties getting hired.

The EEOC report includes recommendations from experts on strategies to prevent age discrimination, such as including age in diversity and inclusion programs and having age-diverse hiring panels.

Research shows that age diversity can improve organizational performance and lower employee turnover.

Studies also find that mixed-age work teams result in higher productivity for both older and younger workers.

“I hope the report also serves to put to rest outdated assumptions about experienced workers," Lipnic says.

“As I’ve said many times, they have talent that our economy cannot afford to waste.”

Register now for CBIA's Wage & Hour Self-Audit conference, Sept. 20, 2018, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in Wallingford. Topics include overtime, worker misclassification, onboarding, pay practices, administering leave, and interacting with Department of Labor.