The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has launched two new training programs for employers: Leading for Respect (for supervisors) and Respect in the Workplace (for all employees).
This is ironic because the EEOC so clearly has no respect for older workers who are victims of age discrimination.
For years, the EEOC has failed to vigorously implement the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967. Almost a quarter of all complaints received by the EEOC in 2016 involved age discrimination; yet the agency filed only two lawsuits that year with “age discrimination claims.”
Moreover, it was recently learned the EEOC ignored legal precedent and dismissed two age discrimination lawsuits filed by highly qualified older job applicants who were passed over for far less qualified workers under the age of 40 (some were recent graduates). In one case, a hiring officer for the Social Security Administration said he discounted qualifications altogether and hired four applicants under the age of 40 based on his perception of cultural fit. Even the business community knows that hiring based on cultural fit is an invitation to bias. Since EEOC actions are secret unless the EEOC files a lawsuit, one can only guess how many older workers have been denied their right to work by the very agency that is responsible for implementing the ADEA.
How Can We Expect the EEOC to Train Employers to Respect and Value Older Workers When the EEOC doesn’t?
The other irony is that older women are the most severely affected by age discrimination in employment, which dumps many of them into an impoverished old age.
The EEOC’s press release indicates the “Respectful Workplaces Training Program” is available to both private and public employers. The program is a follow-up to an EEOC study of workplace harassment.
“The training program focuses on respect, acceptable workplace conduct, and the types of behaviors that contribute to a respectful and inclusive, and therefore ultimately more profitable, workplace,” states the press release.
Here’s a tip for the EEOC. It is not acceptable for the EEOC to conduct itself in a manner that is not respectful and inclusive of older workers, especially those who are victims of age discrimination and come to you for justice.
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.
The EEOC has declined to comment on its decision to uphold an administrative ruling that dismissed an age discrimination case where a hiring officer said he ignored objective qualifications and hired workers based on cultural fit.
The ruling by Carlton M. Hadden, director of the EEOC Office of Federal Operations, involved an allegation of age discrimination by a 60-year-old woman who was not selected for one of five vacancies for the position of attorney decision-writer at a new Social Security Administration office in Reno, NV in 2011.
The novice hiring officer testified that he completely ignored objective qualifications when he selected five applicants under the age of 40. After three or four applicants declined the job, the hiring officer selected a 42-year-old male applicant. The hiring officer initially said he rejected the 60-year-old female applicant because she lacked enthusiasm during a 20-minute telephone interview. He agreed she was more objectively qualified than most or all of the other applicants but said she did not fit within his perception of SSA “culture.”
Something was missing from a hearing this week on the EEOC’s proposal to reduce employment discrimination by requiring employers to report the number of individuals they employ on the basis of race, ethnicity and sex.
There was no mention of age or age discrimination.
The new reporting requirement is aimed at eliminating persistent pay inequity for women.
Several experts testified that the gender pay gap grows over women’s careers because women take time out of paid work to care for children. They cited gender differences in raises and promotions and noted that hurdles exist in some high paying occupations, such as high tech, where many women leave, citing a hostile workplace environment. They even cited research that shows women of all education levels are less likely to negotiate their first job offer than men.
A study by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) shows that over a lifetime of work (47 years), the total estimated loss of earnings of women compared to men is $700,000 for a high school graduate, $1.2 million for a college graduate and $2 million for a professional school graduate.
It seems obvious that age discrimination is a factor in the gender wage gap. Research shows that age discrimination forces women out of the workplace years earlier than men and then prevents from finding new work.
A recent study by the National Bureau of Economic Research looked at more than 40,000 job applications across a variety of industries and found “robust” evidence of age discrimination in hiring female candidates and “considerably less evidence” for age discrimination against male candidates.
Across all job types, sales and administrative, the researchers found “unambiguous” evidence that age discrimination starts earlier and never relents for women.
In sales, the only occupation for which researchers submitted applications from both men and women, the study found “considerably stronger evidence of discrimination against older women than older men.”
Researchers suspect that physical appearance matters more for women than men and that the law does far less to protect women from age discrimination than men.
The National Institute on Retirement Security (NIRS) has issued a new report stating that women are 80 percent more likely than men to be impoverished at age 65 and older.
The report, Shortchanged in Retirement, The Continuing Challenges to Women’s Financial Future, proposes, among other things, strengthening Social Security benefits for women to reduce their vulnerability to financial hardship as they age.
Diane Oakley, NIRS executive director and report co-author, says women are “financially disadvantaged because we still earn less than men and we typically take time out of our careers for caregiving – both of which reduce our ability to prepare for retirement.” The NIRS report also notes that women more often work for employers that do not offer a retirement plan and women face more years in retirement because they live longer than men.
All of this is true but it is disappointing that the NIRS does not even acknowledge a major problem facing older women – age discrimination in employment.
The NIRS report reflects the sad fact that age discrimination in employment is invisible, even to those who should know better.
Women are pushed out the workplace earlier than men and then find it far more difficult to get a new job. Women are forced to spend down their savings and take poorly paid part-time or temp work, which limits their ability to save. The median income of women age 65 and older is consistently 25 percent lower than the median income of men of the same age. Continue reading “Why are so many retired women poor?”
.According to the Social Security Administration, a much higher percentage of women who are aged 65 and older live in poverty or near poverty than do males who are aged 65 and older. The median income of individual males aged 65 and older was $29,327 in 2013 compared to $16,301 for individual females. Median means half earned more and half earned less
When candidates for the U.S. Presidency talk about cutting Social Security benefits, a lot of women worry. That’s because women suffer from the cumulative negative impact of sex and age discrimination.
.According to the Social Security Administration, a much higher percentage of women who are aged 65 and older live in poverty or near poverty than do men who are aged 65 and older. The median income of individual males aged 65 and older was $29,327 in 2013 compared to $16,301 for individual females. Median means that half had a higher income and half had a lower income.
Women suffer discrimination all of their working lives, starting with a pay disparity in their first jobs that persists throughout their careers. Women suffer from pregnancy discrimination and the failure of the American workplace to accommodate the disproportionate burdens place upon women with children. Finally, women suffer age discrimination at least a decade before many men experience the problem.
In a 2013 study, the National Women’s Law Center found that nearly 2.9 million women aged 65 and older live in poverty compared to 1.3 million men. The poverty rate for older women was 12 percent, compared to 7 percent for older men. That’s almost twice as many women living in poverty than men! Poverty rates were particularly high for older women who are black (20 percent), Hispanic (23 percent) and Native American (21 percent).
While the U.S. continues to ignore the on-going epidemic of age discrimination here, a new report in the United Kingdom posits that ageism and sexism combine to effectively end women’s careers at the age of 45.
Men continue to progress until around age 55, when they are written off by employers as being “past it.”
These are some of the results of a major report by economist Ros Altmann, who was appointed last year by the United Kingdom’s Department for Work and Pensions Minister to serve as the U.K.’s Business Champion for Older Workers.
Altmann told the British Daily Mail and Independent newspapers that senior human resource professionals report that women’s career progression in most companies stops around the age of 45. She said that nearly half the growth in female employment since the recession has been in low-paid, part-time work, mainly clerical, caring and cleaning work. Here are some other findings:
Older workers with young bosses tend to face the worst age discrimination.
Employers wrongly assume that older workers are less familiar with computer technology and are unable to learn.
Women face an extra layer of discrimination because employers want young, female staff who “look a certain way.”
Altmann recommends the government threaten job recruitment firms with penalties unless they do more to prevent age discrimination. She said all job advertisements should clearly state the application is open to everyone regardless of age. She also recommends a national “confidence” campaign for discouraged older workers and proposed that companies offer “mature” apprentice programs.