As the average age of the country’s population continues to rise, it becomes more evident that certain preconceived notions about older people are costing some their jobs. Even in a progressive state such as California, older employees continue to face workplace discrimination despite the state and federal legal prohibitions placed on employers. A U.S. Supreme Court decision back in 2009 did not help the situation since it made it more difficult for older workers to file discrimination claims.
In response to an atmosphere where older workers could end up fired or demoted based on their age without any consequences to the company doing it, members of Congress are attempting to move forward legislation to help. The proposed Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act would essentially undo the high court’s decision. If passed, the law would allow aging workers to present “admissible evidence” of age discrimination without requiring this factor to be the sole one in a termination or demotion discrimination claim.
Employees could present evidence that shows the existence of a workplace culture that discriminates against older workers such as jokes about age, comments on appearance and more. The proposed law would also allow courts here in California and elsewhere to put an injunction in place to prevent the demotion or dismissal. However, the court would not be able to make any awards along with it.
While older workers wait for more assistance in holding discriminatory employers accountable, they still need to stand up for themselves. Workplace discrimination claims based on age are low despite many aging employees acknowledging its prevalence. Perhaps if more people came forward, it would put more light on this issue, which could help make much needed changes.