Texas Roadhouse Suit Settled $12 million

texas-roadhouseA major age discrimination lawsuit brought by the EEOC against Texas Roadhouse was settled out of court Friday for $12 million.

A four-week trial in the cased ended in February in a hung jury. The retrial was scheduled for next month.

The EEOC brought a class action “pattern or practice” lawsuit against the Kentucky-based company in 2011 charging  the chain had refused for years to hire workers aged 40 and above for front-of-the-house positions (i.e. servers, hosts, server assistants and bartenders).

Clearly, $12 million won’t break the bank for Texas Roadhouse, a national restaurant chain that  earned $400 million in gross profits in 2016. However, Texas Roadhouse also  agreed, as part of the settlement, to stop discriminating on the basis of age in the future and to increase its recruitment and hiring of employees aged 40 and older for front-of-the-house positions.

Hopefully, the case will serve as a warning to other national restaurant chains that refuse to hire older workers for front–of-the-house positions.

The EEOC also said Texas Roadhouse will establish the position of diversity director and pay for a compliance monitor to oversee the terms of the three and a half-year consent decree. Continue reading “Texas Roadhouse Suit Settled $12 million”

W.H. Aging Conf. Goes Out with a Whimper

The 2015 White House Conference on Aging released its final report Tuesday without mentioning rampant age discrimination in employment or the financial plight of older Americans caused by the collapse of Wall Street.

Celia Munoz, director of the Obama administration’s Domestic Policy Council,  congratulated the Obama administration for accomplishing a “great deal” while recognizing there is still much more work to do.  Munoz  assures us that a “better informed vision for aging in America” emerged from the Conference.

To some, the conference was a disappointing public relations event. The Obama administration partnered with the AARP, which actually organized regional events. The AARP is the nation’s leading purveyor of Medi-gap health insurance to older adults. Not surprisingly, a major theme of the Conference was healthy aging.

Conference organizers completely ignored repeated pleas to examine the link between elder poverty, the on-going epidemic of age discrimination in hiring and the disappearance of defined benefit pensions.

Some of the Conference’s highly-touted initiatives come far too late to help older adults today. For example, Obama proposed a portable retirement account that workers can take from job to job and  a law requiring financial advisers to act in their clients’ best interests.

An alarming percentage of America’s older adults today literally have no money, having lost jobs, homes and savings in the financial meltdown.

The Social Security Administration estimates the average Social Security benefit is $13,000 a year, from which Medicare payments are then deducted.  For 36 percent of recipients, Social Security provides 90 percent or more of their income.  For 24 percent of recipients, it is the sole source of retirement income.

The White House has held a Conference on Aging every decade since 1961. The 2015 Conference was a shell of its predecessors because, according to the administration, Congress failed to allocate sufficient funds for the event. In the past,  delegates from around the country converged in Washington, D.C., to discuss ways to  improve the quality of life of older Americans.

It seems more likely that the plight of older adults is simply not a priority for either Congress or the Obama administration.

There’s always 2025?

 

 

Study Finds Age Discrimination is Particularly Bad for Women

goddess-of-justice


Illegal age discrimination in hiring is rampant and is particularly bad for older women.

These conclusions were reached in a study released Monday by three economists – David Neumark and Ian Burn of the University of California at Irvine and Patrick Button of Tulane University.

The researchers sent out fictional resumes in response to 40,000 job ads and found that callbacks were much higher for younger groups no matter what kind of job was being advertised. But older women had the fewest call backs. The study looked at a dozen cities, including New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Boston. Here are some of the study findings:

  • “First, for the one occupation where we study both men and women – sales – we find considerably stronger evidence of discrimination against older women than older men; indeed if one emphasizes the evidence from the unobservables correction, there is evidence of age discrimination only for women. “
  • “ … more generally across the many analyses we present, the evidence of age discrimination against older women is strong and robust, while the evidence for older men is less clear.”
  • “We only consistently find evidence of age discrimination for one of three occupations in which we study men (security), and in this case the evidence is not statistically strong.”

The higher rate of age discrimination for women may be the combination of age and sex discrimination, plus the impact of physical appearance.

Continue reading “Study Finds Age Discrimination is Particularly Bad for Women”

Will Apathy Kill POWADA Again This Year?

U.S. SenateHere we go again. U.S. Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) have introduced the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act (POWADA) for consideration in the Senate to reverse a 2009 Supreme Court decision that made it much harder for workers to prove they are victims of age discrimination.

The original POWADA was introduced in 2009 but – for reasons that defy explanation – Congress has failed to act on the measure. There does not appear to be any objection the POWADA, which would merely restore the status quo that existed for two decades prior to the 2009 ruling. The POWADA is simply ignored year after year, even as older workers suffer epidemic levels of age discrimination in employment.

Older workers have been second-class citizens in the U.S. legal system since 2009.

The unfair and unjust treatment of age discrimination victims prompted my 2014 book, Betrayed: The Legalization of Age Discrimination in the Workplace, which advocates for the immediate adoption of the POWADA. In the long run, I propose making age a protected class under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, color and national origin.

What about this year? Does the POWADA stand any chance of being passed by both houses of Congress and  signed into law by the President Obama? Continue reading “Will Apathy Kill POWADA Again This Year?”

Labor Day: Not Much to Celebrate for Older Workers

United States Flag

There is little for older workers to celebrate this Labor Day 2015.

In recent months, the Obama administration has escalated its unprecedented assault on  the nation’s leading law prohibiting age discrimination in employment, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, blatantly favoring unemployed younger workers over unemployed older workers..

Here’s the status quo:

  • The U.S. government is actively engaged in  age discrimination in the workplace. President Barack Obama in 2010 signed an executive order that permits federal agencies to discriminate against older workers. U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez recently endorsed an effort by a coalition of America’s largest corporations to discriminate against older workers. No one seems to care.
  • Congress has failed for six years to pass the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act (POWADA). As a result, it is much more difficult for older workers to prevail in an age discrimination lawsuit than it is for workers who are victims of discrimination on the basis of race, sex (including sexual preference), religion and national origin.The POWADA would remove some of the ruinous damage that the U.S. Supreme Court inflicted on the Age Discrimination in Employment Act in 2009.
  • No group seems to be advocating for older workers in the halls of Congress. The AARP, which describes itself as the nation’s leading advocate for Americans aged 50 and above, has seen its profits skyrocket since Obamacare was passed. But older Americans have suffered from onerous co-pays and un-reimbursed medical expenses. At this point, almost half of Americans aged 65 and above are considered “economically vulnerable.”  The  AARP is the leading seller of medi-gap health insurance in the United States, and has increasingly expanded its offerings to include everything from new computers to telephones. But apparently the AARP is not making enough money to fight for the passage of  POWADA (see above).
  • Older workers are disproportionately represented in the ranks of the long-term unemployed (those workers who have been looking for work for 27 weeks or longer). Unemployed older workers are twice as likely to be chronically unemployed.  Many are forced to spend down their savings, work in low-wage part-time jobs and, ultimately, retire as soon as possible to obtain Social Security benefits. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics: 22.1 percent of the unemployed under age 25 had looked for work for 27 weeks or longer in 2014, compared with 44.6 percent of those 55 years and older.  One reason for this sorry state is epidemic and unaddressed age discrimination in hiring.
  • The Social Security Administration’s formula for dispersing Social Security benefits favors the rich and penalizes the poor (i.e. long-term unemployed who are forced into a penurious retirement due to age discrimination). Of course, women and minorities who have experienced career-long discrimination in the workplace suffer the most under this ancient benefits formula.

I could go on but you get the idea.  In my book, Betrayed: The Legalization of Age Discrimination in the Workplace, I advocate scrapping the ADEA and adding age as a protected class under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Library of Congress refuses to catalog my book, to make it available to policy-makers, because it is self-published. Sigh.  If you know a Congressional representative, spread the word.

If older workers and older Americans do not find real advocates in the coming year, it is very likely that nothing will change. 

A ‘Right’ That Is Not Enforced Is An Illusion

What does it mean to have a right when that right is not enforced?

Older Americans have a right to be free from age discrimination in employment but that right is widely, blatantly and unapologetically ignored – even by our own U.S. government, which older workers support through their tax dollars.

Now the Organization of American States (OAS) has approved the Inter-American Convention on Protecting the Human Rights of Older Persons to ensure that older people in the Americas enjoy rights on an equal basis with other segments of the population. The Convention, approved at an OAS meeting in Washington, DC, last month, asserts that all existing human rights and fundamental freedoms apply to older people.

OAS Member States are urged to adopt “legislative or other measures”   necessary to give effect to the rights and freedoms of older adults, including awareness campaigns. The Convention was signed immediately by the governments of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica and Uruguay. The United States is a member of the OAS but has not signed the Convention (perhaps because that would require the Obama Administration to stop discriminating against older workers?).

Of course, the U.S. Congress passed a law almost 50 years ago to protect older workers from age discrimination. Today the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 is widely and shockingly ignored.  In my book, Betrayed: The Legalization of Age Discrimination in the Workplace, I show the ADEA was weak to begin with and has been eviscerated by the U.S. Supreme Court. Today the ADEA offers far fewer protections to older workers who are victims of discrimination than its sister statute, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, provides to workers who are discriminated against because of race, sex, religion, national origin and color. Additionally, the U.S. Supreme Court accords age discrimination its lowest standard of review, far lower than that accorded to ace or sex discrimination.

The reality is that older workers in the United States have never enjoyed an”equal right” to be free from harmful and unfounded discrimination in the workplace.

Continue reading “A ‘Right’ That Is Not Enforced Is An Illusion”

Does the White House Conf. on Aging have Alzheimer’s?

WHCOA

What a difference a decade makes – unless you are The White House Conference on Aging (WHCOA).

Then it doesn’t seem to make any difference.

Today, the once-every-decade conference will hold its signature event after months of low-level activity sponsored mainly by the AARP, America’s leading purveyor of health insurance to older Americans (not to mention vacation travel, car repairs, telephone and internet service, etc. etc.).

The WHCOA  sent out emails Saturday detailing the agenda for the big event.

Apparently there was no time in the jam-packed schedule to discuss the financial havoc wrought upon older Americans by the worst recession in America in 100 years. Similarly,it does not appear the conference will address the epidemic of age discrimination in hiring that relegates older workers to chronic unemployment, low-paid work and a financially improvident “early retirement.” It’s almost as if this unpleasant chapter of American history, attributable to Wall Street pirates who were never prosecuted, never happened.

The conference will focus on care-giving, “planning for financial security at every age,” nutrition, “the power of inter-generational connections and healthy aging,” universal design and technology and the future of aging.

To add insult to injury, the organizers of the WHCOA are asking Americans to complete this sentence: “Getting older is getting better because …”

Is getting older getting better?

Continue reading “Does the White House Conf. on Aging have Alzheimer’s?”