REPORT: MOST WOMEN’S CAREERS DIE AT 45

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.

The U.S. Slumbers on … 

The U.K. initiative stands in sharp contrast to the almost complete lack of action in the United States to combat blatant and epidemic age discrimination in the workplace. Continue reading “REPORT: MOST WOMEN’S CAREERS DIE AT 45”

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MADONNA AND AGE DISCRIMINATION

Very few female celebrities have publicly raised the issue of age discrimination.  Most hide from it as long as possible because they know it may be the death knell of their career. But Madonna has never been like other celebrities.

In the latest issue of Rolling Stone, Madonna, 56, observes that no one would “dare say a degrading remark about being black or dare say a degrading remark on Instagram about someone being gay, but my age – anybody and everybody would say something degrading to me. And I always think to myself, why is that accepted? What’s the difference between that and racism, or any discrimination?”

The difference, Madonna, is that age discrimination has essentially been legalized in the United States.  The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) was weak to begin with and has been eviscerated by the U.S. Supreme Court. And Congress is completely apathetic about the issue. Continue reading “MADONNA AND AGE DISCRIMINATION”

JIM CROW AND AGE DISCRIMINATION

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing”.  Edmund Burke.

This quote was sent to me by a reader and encapsulates the real problem with the epidemic of age discrimination in America today.  Our elected representatives and federal judges, who ultimately are responsible for ensuring equal justice for all Americans, choose to look the other way when employers engage in age discrimination.  The result is that a class of Americans is subjected to arbitrary and systemic discrimination in the workplace that robs them of, among other things, their ability to earn a living and retire with dignity.

This is reminiscent of the era of Jim Crow but it involves age, not race. Jim Crow laws were state and local laws enacted after the Civil War that had the effect of mandating racial segregation in all public facilities in the South.  In my new book, Betrayed: The Legalization of Age Discrimination in the Workforce, I show that older workers are literally second-class citizens under the law.

The major law protecting older workers, The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, was weak to begin with and has been eviscerated by the U.S. Supreme Court.  As a result, older workers are subjected to wholesale and targeted terminations, long-term unemployment due to epidemic and overt age discrimination in hiring and, finally, they are forced into low-wage or temp work until they can age into an early retirement that will reduce their Social Security benefit by at least 25%  for the rest of their lives.

Age discrimination has nothing to do with ability or merit. It’s about perception. It’s attributable to ignorance and prejudice – both conscious and unconscious – perpetuated by false and harmful stereotypes, fear of aging, and animus between that generations which is fueled by America’s staggering wealth inequality.   And, of course, it exists because of  the failure of  the supposedly good people to act.

I have no intention of diminishing the horror that is evident in the history of race discrimination in America.  Age discrimination is  different. Older people aren’t lynched. They’re put in drawers and forgotten. And age discrimination in the workplace is just the beginning. The problem also is evident in for-profit nursing homes, where old people are labelled, sedated, and neglected until they fade away. By the way, there is a strong correlation between poverty in old age and race.

Burke (1729-1797) was an Irish statesman; author, orator, political theorist, and philosopher. He isn’t the only one to observe that evil thrives when good people do nothing. More recently, Martin Luther King said: “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.”

* This article was originally published at abusergoestowork.com on February 13, 2015.

IMPORTANT RULING ON MOTIVE & AGE DISCRIMINATION

Here’s a rare  and important victory in a federal age discrimination case involving a Minnesota city’s failure to promote a 51-year-old police lieutenant to the position of chief of police because he was “retirement eligible.”

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in Minneapolis rejected the City’s theory that its action were not-discriminatory because its motive was to hire a long-term police chief.  The City relied upon a theory expounded by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1993 that it is not age discrimination if  an employer is motivated by a reason that is related to but “analytically distinct” from age discrimination (i.e. salary or pension status).

“On the facts here,” the appeals court ruled, “retirement eligibility is always correlated with age because it is dependent on the employee reaching 50; it cannot be ‘divorced from age.’”  Moreover, the  panel said that assuming a candidate is “uncommitted to a position because his age made him retirement-eligible is age-stereotyping that the ADEA prohibits.”

Continue reading “IMPORTANT RULING ON MOTIVE & AGE DISCRIMINATION”

AGEISM, MITT ROMNEY AND NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO

Age discrimination normally is the one type of discrimination that is so prevalent that it  goes unnoticed.

But I couldn’t help but notice it this week.

First, Republican Mitt Romney, 67, claimed that he decided not to stage a third run for the presidency because it is time to pass the reigns to a “new generation:”  Romney, of course, didn’t mention that his backers have fled because he proved on two occasions that he is hopelessly out of touch with the American public and surprisingly inept at being a politician.  Romney’s ageist stab at Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, 67, and Republican Jeb Bush, 61, shows he is just as clueless about aging as he is about the lives of ordinary Americans.

This morning, I was taken aback by a segment on the National Public Radio program, “Wait, Wait … Don’t Tell Me!”   A panel spent several minutes joking about Bob Dylan’s appearance on the cover of “AARP The Magazine.” Host Peter Sagel, 50, compared Dylan, who is 73, to a “strange withered troll.” He goes on to say, “If you’ve seen the cover, I know you’re thinking, ‘Aww, that’s too bad’ … but no, Bob Dylan is still alive …  He’s updating his songs, like, Lay Lady Lay, lay across my adjustable hospital bed … His real name is Bob Zimmerman. He’s an old Jewish man now.”

Is it completely humorless to note that Sagel’s jokes are really about age?  His comments perpetuate mean-spirited, dehumanizing and false stereotypes about aging.  It is almost as if Sagel feels that Dylan has  forfeited his brilliance and talent and suffered the final humiliation by becoming an “old Jewish man.”   This type of humor is on the same spectrum as tasteless jokes about blondes and minorities, which presumably would not be allowed on NPR.

* Originally published at abusergoestowork.com on January 31, 2015.

The mission of NPR is to “to create a more informed public — one challenged and invigorated by a deeper understanding and appreciation of events, ideas and cultures.”  NPR is informing the public but what it is telling the public is that ageism is acceptable, entertaining and doesn’t hurt older people.

In my book, Betrayed: The Legalization of Age Discrimination in the Workplace, I argue that older workers are subject to epidemic discrimination because of deep-seated animus against aging and false stereotypes about older Americans.  I cite a 2002 study of 68,144 participants of diverse ages that found that age bias “remains in our experience … among the largest negative implicit attitudes we have observed … consistently larger than the anti-black attitude among white Americans.”

MY AGE DISCRIM. ARTICLE FEATURED IN AGING TODAY

I am pleased that the American Society on Aging has chosen to feature my article, An Epidemic of Discrimination, about the silent epidemic of age discrimination in the workplace, on its website and in the January/February issue of its magazine, Aging Today. Founded in 1954, the mission of the ASA is to enhance the knowledge and skills of those who work to improve the quality of life for older adults and their families.  The association, based in San Francisco, includes a diverse array of professionals, educators, administrators, policy makers, business people, researchers and students.  I argue in the article that rampant, unaddressed age discrimination against workers in their 40s and 50s – particularly during the Great Recession – has eroded their financial security during their retirement years.  This is one of the themes I explore in my new book,Betrayed: The Legalization of Age Discrimination in the Workplace.

OBAMA FORGOT TO FIGHT AGE DISCRIMINATION

“Obama will fight job discrimination for aging employees by strengthening the Age Discrimination in Employment Act … .”  Source: Blueprint for Change (2008)

I was surprised when I recently read that President Barack Obama pledged in 2008 to strengthen the nation’s primary law prohibiting age discrimination, The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967.

Surprised because the ADEA is much weaker today than it was when Obama was running for President in 2008 . The ADEA was decimated by an adverse U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2009. Congress could have legislatively “fixed” the Court’s ruling but has failed to pass the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act for five years.  But I was most surprised because Obama himself is responsible for weakening the ADEA.

Obama signed an executive order in 2010 that allows federal agencies to discriminate against older workers by hiring “recent graduates” –  which is in direct contravention to the ADEA.  What message does it send to private employers when the U.S. government deems it appropriate to discriminate on the basis of age? Whether intended or not, Obama’s executive order serves as a green light for employers to engage in harmful, invidious age discrimination.

Meanwhile, Obama’s administration is in the process of planning a White House Conference on Agingthis year . Organizers so far have completely ignored the unaddressed epidemic of age discrimination in the workplace that is catapulting older workers into chronic unemployment, low wage jobs and forced early “retirement.”

The Conference recently announced it is partnering with the AARP, the nation’s leading purveyor of supplemental Medicare health insurance, to co-sponsor five regional forums to hear from the public “on issues such as ensuring retirement security, promoting healthy aging, providing long-term services and support, and protecting older Americans from financial exploitation, abuse, and neglect.” Promote healthy aging?  Hmmm … Do you have supplemental Medicare health insurance?

Obama’s unfulfilled campaign promise points to yet another reason that the problem of age discrimination is so prevalent in America today. Older Americans have failed to effectively marshal their resources  to insure that their interests are not forgotten by politicians the day after the election.   In hisState of the Union Address last week, President Obama focused on young families and the middle class and failed to even mention issues of particular concern to older Americans,

In my new book, Betrayed: The Legalization of Age Discrimination in the Workplace, I explore the reasons that age discrimination is treated like a lesser offense when compared with discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion and national origin.  I show that age discrimination is about perception, not reality.  It is about unfounded stereotypes and deep-seated animus. And it has a devastating impact on the health and welfare of older Americans.

* Originally published at abusergoestowork.com on January 25, 2015.