The mind, once expanded to the dimensions of larger ideas, never returns to its original size. ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

Saturday, February 26, 2011


"The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) protects individuals who are 40 years of age or older from employment discrimination based on age. The ADEA’s protections apply to both 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".

The ADEA would be an timely piece of legislation if it were possible to effectively enforce it. However, in spite of the alarming "surge" in age discrimination law-suits being filed in today's economy, few cases ever become formal complaints due to the costs of legal representation and difficulty bringing them to adjudication. All to often companies conceal their position by claiming they found someone "more suited for the position" (a point that is difficult to fight without direct knowledge about the competition's qualifications and age), or that they want someone with "less experience" or a "recent graduate" (both clearly indicating age bias).

In the case of layoffs, age bias is more blatant especially if cutbacks are made in an effort to "trim the budget by dispensing with higher paid individuals", thus older and more experienced workers. Often they are replaced by younger applicants. These cases can be far more easily proven to be acts of discrimination. Those aged 20-40 turn a cold shoulder to this issue, however, they fail to consider that in another 10-20 years it will be them being handed the pink slips, replaced by a new generation of younger and cheaper labor.

Unfortunately, Federal and State governments have failed to protect the rights of those age 50 and up. In 2009, Clarence Thomas, a conservative justice on the Supreme Court, ruled in a 5 to 4 decision which disregarded legal precedent, that the burden of proof in such cases would be shifted completely onto the employee. This ruling benefited companies while making the prospect of older workers finding new employment more difficult.

Incentives to hire older people have not been established leaving a growing pool of Baby Boomers (age 50-60) without jobs. With the rising expense of unemployment claims and public assistance for those whose benefits have run out, it would only seem logical and fiscally responsible to pass legislation penalizing companies not showing a fair and equitable balance in hiring practices. Additionally, tax breaks should be made available to those who hire the unemployed or older worker instead of stealing already employed workers from competitors.

A Capitalistic government protects corporations without regard to the country's workforce or citizens. It encourages joblessness, by supporting buyouts, mergers and layoffs resulting from them. Those who support this system, sound the war cry that their taxes should not be used to support the jobless, however, they back the government policies responsible for causing this atrocity to fester. If you do not want higher taxes it's time to open your eyes and heart. Lend a hand to your fellow American and say, "If they will not help you - I WILL!

Our country has been divided into a nation of Have A Lots and a Disappearing Middle Class ravaged by poverty, willing to work striving merely to survive. This is NOT the Democracy our Forefathers promised us! Not even the one that made the American Dream a reality for so many. It closely resembles England of Charles Dickens' era. It has become a Plutocracy and you'll find Scrooge on Capitol Hill, sitting fat and happy eating the pork belly of Capitalism; enjoying a mighty fine income, health benefits and pension!

How proud can one be when:

Our universities are training a growing number of foreign students who seek quality education and then return to their countries of origin to COMPETE with our companies. When asked why he was returning to Jordan after completing his PhD, a student replied, the education may be better here, but at least at home I am guaranteed a secure, paying career!

Employment specialists advise older applicants: DO NOT put any indication of your age on a resume. This includes dates of graduation, any experience dating back more than 20 years or anything that would make your age obvious." Once company staff sees this, they must immediately toss or delete the resume so that the company cannot be accused of age discrimination by applicants."

Older workers are encouraged to, "dye your hair, get plastic surgery, dress youthful, post older photos of yourself on the Internet". This would be fine however, cosmetic surgery, hair plugs, salon services, and new wardrobes are out of reach for most of hose living on bare bones. Are we truly a nation so vain and superficial that youthful looks are valued above age, experience and wisdom?

Even these methods fail when the Internet exposes everything one could want to know about you including record of earlier jobs, accomplishments, previous addresses, education dating back to preschool, medical records, and "what you thought was private chats". Even if your records are pristine, your wife's membership in an Political Organization, your charity donations for Cancer Research, or a vote on a petition for Gay Rights can and will be held against you by companies making false assumptions based on too much information and too little discretion. They will even consider records of people who are unrelated, but bear the same last name. In a time when there are 5 qualified people for every job that opens, not to mention countless applicants, this allows for irreverent carpet bombing attacks against our own people.

Companies will not even give a break to an older worker who is willing to work for lower wages or a step backwards career wise just to secure permanent, steady employment for the sake of survival. Their analysts and actuaries view older workers as being "higher risk", while the opposite is true. Baby boomers are healthier and living longer than previous generations. However, higher risk behaviors are far more common for those age 20-40. Younger people are at higher risk for mental illness or more acute stages of various disorders. Type-2 diabetes and obesity is a growing concern among younger generations who have adapted unhealthy lifestyles. Employees with young families are more apt to miss work in order to tend to child care and marital issues. They simply are not as dependable.

Companies claim they are looking to cut costs. They claim they are looking for someone who "will stay around for the long haul." However, the fact that is most young workers stay about 5 years before changing jobs, finding better pay and incentives along with faster career growth. This seems to be ignored by the bean counters as they concentrate on the bottom line. With a higher turn over rate among those fresh out of college, there is a higher investment in training and time lost while bringing newcomers up to speed. Older workers are looking for job security to finish out their career and are far more flexible with their needs.

Older workers are more mature, tend to remain calm under pressure, are devoted and more motivated. They have a higher degree of competence, can think outside the box, are more focused and better at problem solving, are more adaptable. They know the ins and outs of career building and have usually had prior experience in mentoring or training others. They have more flexibility due to fewer family obligations, are quick to learn and can start off running, and the list goes on and on and on. Unlike newcomers, they have an established work history with stronger references to ensure that the company is not making a mistake by gambling on a unknown quantity. All in all - it is simple logic. An older worker gives a company more bang for the buck!

So why are companies less willing to consider the experienced worker? Ignorance, misconceptions and short term and short sighted financial goals. What's sadder is it's the older workers who are securely employed that are guilty of making these biased decisions to quickly save the company money and line their own pockets, while setting it up for failure in the future. These men are not concerned with the consequences down the road as they prepare for retirement.

So think about it whether you are a CEO, CFO, Manager, HR Professional or Department Head. Do your math and invest intelligently when hiring.Give the older worker a chance.

For all others, write to your Govenors, Representatives, Senetors and Congressmen. Take a firm stand. Protect your future, your family's and the security of your parents (otherwise guess who's coming to dinner and staying for the rest of their lives).

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