Federal Judge says Facts Not Plausible

U.S. District Judge Andrew L. Carter, Jr. of the Southern District of New York threw out the paralegal”s age discrimination claims because, he said, they were speculative and unsupported by plausible facts.

But what is a plausible fact?

Judge Carter is around the same age as the plaintiff in the case, Terri Jablonski, 49, and that’s where the similarities end. He’s a male graduate of Harvard Law School who was appointed to his position by President Barack Obama in 2011. He earns around $200,000 a year and enjoys lifetime tenure.

Jablonski is a female Haverford College graduate who earned a paralegal certificate from New York University. She has 19 years of experience as a paralegal and, according to her attorney, excellent references. But she has hit a roadblock.

 Jablonski filed 41 unsuccessful job applications with the legal staffing firm, Special Counsel, Inc., from August 2, 2013 to July 21, 2015. She was never hired or even referred for placement.

Continue reading “Federal Judge says Facts Not Plausible”

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EEOC: Do Qualifications matter or not?

The EEOC appears to be hopelessly confused about the significance of  qualifications in age discrimination case.

This week, the EEOC filed a rare lawsuit alleging age discrimination in hiring. The  EEOC charges that CBS Stations Group of Texas violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act  (ADEA) when it failed to hire Tammy Campbell, 42, for a full-time traffic reporter position because of her age.  An EEOC press release states the station hired a 24-year old female applicant  who was less qualified than Campbell.

The case contradicts the EEOC’s dismissal last month of a lawsuit filed by a 60-year-old woman who was rejected for one of five attorney positions with the Social Security Administration. The novice hiring officer testified the woman was more qualified than some or all of the younger applicants but that he didn’t consider objective qualifications. He said he based his hiring decisions entirely upon whom he thought would be the best fit for the “culture” of the agency.

Do qualifications count, as in the Texas case, or are they irrelevant, as in the Social Security case?

Continue reading “EEOC: Do Qualifications matter or not?”

Large Study Finds Systemic Age Discrimination in High Tech

Silicon ValleyThe only thing shocking about a new study showing that rampant age discrimination exists in the high tech industry is that anyone didn’t already know that.

However, Visier Insights Report: The Truth About Ageism in the Tech Industry, provides fascinating detail based upon a solid database of  330,000 employees from 43 large U.S. enterprises.

A Canada-based provider of workforce analytic services to companies around the world, Visier concludes “systemic ageism” exists in the high tech industry compared to the non-tech industry. The average tech worker is 38 years old, compared to 43 years old for non-tech workers. The average manager in the tech industry is 42 years old, compared to 47 for non-tech industries.

It has been known for years that age discrimination in rampant in Silicon Valley but the EEOC, which is charged with enforcing the Age Discrimination in Employment Act,  has almost completely ignored the problem, even as national magazines featured stories about 30-year-old tech workers flocking to plastic surgeons in an effort to appear young .

The Visier report  is more proof that the high tech workforce is marked by “significant” over-representation of millennials, between the ages of 20 and 33, and Gen X workers, between the ages of 34 and 51. Millennials comprise 42.6 percent of the high tech workforce  compared to 26.1 percent of the non-tech workforce, and Gen X workers comprise 42.6 percent of the high tech workforce compared to 46.4 percent of the non-tech workforce. Continue reading “Large Study Finds Systemic Age Discrimination in High Tech”

Classism and Forced Retirement

PhilosopherAn ugly “class”  issue lurks beneath the argument that older workers should be forced out of the workplace so that younger workers can have their jobs.

The argument is often made by people who enjoy professional status, earn big bucks and look forward to comfortable pensions.  Not by ordinary working stiffs.

This is the case in a recent essay in the Wall Street Journal by two law school professors from the University of Chicago, Saul Levmore, who is around 63 years of age, and Martha Nussbaum, who is 70.

They claim, without citing any supporting data, that the productivity of workers declines after age 50. Performance may decline in some areas for some workers (i.e., quarterbacks and major league pitchers) but aging is individualistic and not uniform. Should we also assume that all women want to be mommies and all men can bench press 500 pounds?

They argue the law should allow employers and employees “to agree” on a retirement age at the start of a new job, so the workers can be terminated “after a certain age” without cause. Don’t they know that few, if any, workers would voluntarily agree to such an onerous contract term. That these contracts would be based on age discrimination and signed under duress.

Why would the Wall Street Journal shine its spotlight on an essay that fails to show any understanding for the plight of older workers or the reality of age discrimination in the workplace? Possibly because six corporations own 90 percent of the media today and these corporations engage in age discrimination.

Ironically, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 initially permitted colleges and universities to involuntarily retire tenured professors at age 65. How would Levmore and Nussbaum feel about being forced to hand their posh jobs over to deserving young PhDs? Continue reading “Classism and Forced Retirement”

Ageism is Bad – Except in Silicon Valley?

GlobalAgingA report last year by the Milken Institute’s Center for the Future of Aging  reaches a shockingly ageist conclusion – a younger workforce is “tremendously beneficial” for growth in industries like Silicon Valley.

The 2016 report, Redefining Traditional Notions of Aging; Embracing Longevity Across Cultures,  discusses the evils of ageism and goes on to state:

“Granted, there are industries and sectors within the economy in which a younger workforce is tremendously beneficial to growth. This is especially true in places like Silicon Valley, the global bastion for young budding technology engineers and entrepreneurs.”

The authors credit Silicon Valley’s youthful workplace for “creative ideas and the abilities to build new products and provide new services have boosted innovation, efficiency, and economic growth.” The report notes the average age at Google is 30; Facebook, 28; LinkedIn 29;  and Apple, 31.

(The authors do not acknowledge that the average ages noted above are the result of pervasive and unaddressed age discrimination in Silicon Valley, which technically is illegal under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967.) Continue reading “Ageism is Bad – Except in Silicon Valley?”

Science Funding Shifts Due to Potentialities and Ageism

Institutionalized and irrational age discrimination has crept into an unlikely sector of the U.S. government – federal funding for neuroscience research.

The National Institutes for Health (NIH) has adopted a “Next Generation Researchers Initiative” that will allocate $210 million  in funding per year for the next five years ($1.1 billion) for biomedical research for early-stage and mid-career “investigators” (a.k.a. scientists).

scienceNIH officials claim this is necessary because baby boomers refuse to retire and are crowding out younger scientists and that this threatens to deter new scientific advances in the years ahead.

It is true the scientific workforce is two or three years older today than in the past but there is no evidence that this will have any adverse impact on the pace or quality of future scientific discoveries. It also seems probable that many factors contribute to joblessness for younger scientists, including changes in funding patterns for scientific research, globalism, automation and the economy.

Using the NIH’s reasoning, taxpayers should create a special fund for newly-minted history PhD’s and law school grads, who also can’t find jobs.

Continue reading “Science Funding Shifts Due to Potentialities and Ageism”

The Terror Management Theory of Age Discrimination

TheBigPictureWhy is the on-going epidemic of age discrimination in employment acceptable to so many Americans? It may boil down to the “Terror Management Theory.”

This theory is discussed in Ageism: Stereotyping and Prejudice against Older Persons, a book of essays that was re-published in a second edition this month by The MIT Press.  The book, originally published in 2004, is edited by Todd D. Nelson, a Professor of Psychology at California State University, Stanislaus.

In the book,  authors Barbara Griffin, Piers Bayl-Smith, and Jennifer P. Barbour write about the Terror Management Theory, which was originally developed by cultural anthropologist Ernest Becker in the 1960s and 1970s.

The theory holds that  all animals have a desire to survive and an instinct for self-preservation. However,  humans are unique in that they have an awareness that they will ultimately die.

According to the authors, individuals experience “an existential crisis” that is marked by “incessant anxiety caused by the knowledge of his or her own mortality. ” To deal with this perpetual apprehensive state,  the authors write, individuals “adhere to cultural belief systems that provide a sense of intransience and self-esteem.”

In short, younger people view  older people as an “out-group” that poses a potential threat. They seek to minimize the threat by decreasing  the significance of the older out- group through stereotyping and discrimination.

Older workers represent to younger workers their feared future self; less beautiful, less vital, and closer to death.

In the work context, the Terror Management Theory may result in discriminatory hiring practices that exclude older workers and younger workers may speak to older workers derogatorily or socially isolate them from workplace events.

The authors write that younger workers also may attempt to build self-esteem by denigrating older workers using negative stereotypes or discriminatory behavior that is designed to emphasize the difference between the younger in-group and the older out-group.

According to Nelson, ageism is found cross-culturally, but is especially prevalent in the United States, where most people regard growing older with depression, fear, and anxiety. Older people in the United States are stigmatized and marginalized, with often devastating consequences, he states.