White House Conf. on Aging Punts – Again

The White House Conference on Aging issued its fourth and final policy brief this week, a myopic document that supposedly addresses “retirement security” without even once mentioning age discrimination.

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WHCOA

The White House Conference on Aging  issued its fourth and final policy brief this week, a myopic document that supposedly addresses “retirement security” without even once mentioning age discrimination.

This WHCOA’s Retirement Security policy brief is focused upon the following three areas:

  1. Protecting and strengthening Social Security. “Current beneficiaries should not see their basic benefits reduced.”
  2. Increasing retirement security and employer-based retirement savings options. “Automatically enroll Americans without access to a workplace retirement plan in an IRA.”
  3. Ensuring workers receive retirement investment advice in their best interest. Require “more retirement advisers to abide by a ‘fiduciary’  standard—putting their clients’ best interest before their own profits.”

The WHCOA concedes in the policy brief that Social Security has become the main source of income for older Americans, especially women and minorities, but fails to inquire into the reasons for this. There is no mention of the bogus down-sizings and restructurings that are little more than ploys to rid the workplace of older workers who earn high salaries or just don’t look “hip” anymore.  There is no mention of  overwhelming evidence of age discrimination in hiring, which robs older workers of the ability to find meaningful work and save for retirement. There is no mention of  evidence that older workers are disproportionately subject to chronic unemployment, which forces them to spend down their savings, take low-paid work and, eventually, to retire as soon as possible, resulting in at least a 25 percent cut in benefits for the rest of their lives.  There is no mention of age discrimination at all, just as there was no mention of age discrimination in the WHCOA’s earlier policy briefs on Elder Justice, Healthy Aging and Long-Term Services and Supports. Continue reading “White House Conf. on Aging Punts – Again”

Five years later: Discriminatory Job Ads

Private employers are criticized for doing what the federal government does – engaging in blatant age discrimination in hiring.

 

There is renewed focus upon a discriminatory practice that has been around for many years –  job advertisements that use blatant code words to attract younger applicants and deter older applicants.

Fortune Magazine recently noted that employers in the media, advertising and tech industries, have begun advertising for “digital natives,” which is code for workers aged 30 or below.

This may be new to Fortune but I filed a complaint in September 2010 with the EEOC complaining about this very issue. I provided documentation showing that the major internet job search site for attorneys, ALM’s Lawjobs.com, featured literally hundreds of advertisements for attorney jobs containing blatant age limitations. I provided more than a dozen examples of discriminatory ads taken from the site.  Some of the ads sought attorneys who graduated during a defined and recent period of time, such as from 2004 to 2007.  Other ads sought attorneys with limited experience, such as three-to-five years of experience. Given that the average age of law school graduates is about 25 years of age, I felt these ads violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967.  Indeed, the ads fundamentally were no different than the notorious “whites only” job ads of the Jim Crow era.

I took the step of filing an EEOC complaint because I felt attorneys should be both knowledgeable about age discrimination and serve as officers of the court who pledge to follow the law. Moreover, judges are plucked from the ranks of attorneys and it’s hard enough to win an age discrimination case. That attorneys and the search firms they hire to place their job advertisements felt no compunction about engaging in blatant age discrimination seemed to me to be indicative of a much wider problem.

I was disappointed, though not surprised, when the EEOC declined to pursue my complaint.  Continue reading “Five years later: Discriminatory Job Ads”

GUEST BLOG POST ON CHANGINGAGING.COM

I am pleased to note that my article, Age Discrimination and Elder Poverty, is featured on ChangingAging, a multi-blog network committed to challenging conventional views on aging and using social media to promote the equality, sustainability, health and well being of people of all ages.  The blog was founded by Dr. Bill Thomas, a physician and playwright whom the Wall Street Journal called one of the nation’s “top 12 innovators” in changing the future of retirement in America. Dr. Thomas, who is a founding faculty member of UMBC’s Erickson School of Aging , is embarking on a national speaking tour called Age of Disruption.

* Originally published on April 30, 2015 at abusergoestowork.com.

THE AARP’S ROLE IN WHITE HOUSE CONF. ON AGING

What is the White House Conference on Aging (WHCOA) … Really.

Is it a serious examination of the problems facing older Americans that occurs once every decade, or is it a public relations opportunity?

At its fourth regional forum on Monday, the WHCOA held a panel discussion on retirement security that featured a panel of  bureaucrats who failed to even mention age discrimination. That’s like talking about California’s drought without mentioning climate change. A spokesperson for the Obama administration promised the President would protect Social Security and said the administration is working to make the process of retirement savings easier and more transparent. No one is asking why so many older Americans  are poor and struggling

Numerous attempts in recent months to contact Nora Super, executive director of the WHCOA, to urge her to address employment discrimination based on age have failed to elicit any response whatsoever. Why does the WHCOA seems to be focusing upon soft issues like “healthy aging.”

On its web site, the AARP says it is “co-sponsoring” and “co-planning” the WHCOA’s regional forums, along with a lobbying group called Leadership Council of Aging (LCAO), which describes itself as a coalition of 72 of the nation’s leading organizations serving older Americans. The contact person for “all questions” regarding the LCAO is Nicholas Barracca at LCAO@aarp.org. I emailed that address on Monday and received an unsigned reply stating that the AARP is the “current chair organization” of the LCAO, which rotates chairs each year among five different organizations. I inquired again about the LCAO’s source of funding and Barracca replied that the LCAO is funded through membership dues.

At some point, it is fair to ask whether there is a conflict of interest with respect to the AARP’s dominating role in the WHOA forums.

Continue reading “THE AARP’S ROLE IN WHITE HOUSE CONF. ON AGING”

GOOGLE HIT WITH CLASS ACTION AGE DISCRIM. LAWSUIT

Silicon Valley has been an unapologetic apartheid state for young workers for years but this could be about to change.

A class action age discrimination lawsuit was filed against Google, Inc. on April 22 by software engineer Robert Heath who was interviewed but not hired for a position at Google in 2011 when he was 60-years-of-age. The lawsuit alleges Google has demonstrated a pattern and practice of violating the Age Discrimination in Employment and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act.

According to the lawsuit, Google’s workforce is “grossly disproportionate” with respect to age. The lawsuit asserts the median age of the 28,000 employees who worked for Google in 2013 was 29.  Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Labor reports the median age for computer programmers in the United States is 42.8 and the median age for software developers is 40.6. According to the lawsuit, Google had 53,000 employees in 2014 and revenues of approximately $66 billion.

Google’s position with respect to age discrimination is completely inexplicable. The company last year made a public commitment to increase race and gender diversity in its workforce, and released workforce statistics relating to those characteristics. But Google was completely silent with respect to  age and did not release age-related statistics. It was as if Google’s position was that age is not a factor in workforce diversity.

Continue reading “GOOGLE HIT WITH CLASS ACTION AGE DISCRIM. LAWSUIT”

NEW BIG IDEA CHALLENGE: STOP AGE DISCRIMINATION

It is one thing to restrict participation in a youth soccer league to youth but what justification exists for restricting participation in an intellectual challenge on the basis of age?

Next City, a non-profit organization that receives funding from some ofAmerica’s major foundations, is hosting a gathering on May 6-7 in my city of residence, Reno, Nevada, that will feature “the top urban innovators, 40 years old and younger, working to make change in cities.”   According to the press release, Next City’s annual Vanguard Conference is “a chance for the brightest urban thinkers from the America’s to prototype a design intervention that, if successful, could be replicated elsewhere.”  The conference,“Big Idea Challenge, Reno 2015,” is being co-sponsored by the city of Reno.

You don’t have to be a bright urban thinker to recognize that this kind of event sends a negative message to people who are aged 41 and older. They are made to feel like “other,” “lesser” and “yesterday.”  Why? There is no evidence that America’s brightest urban thinkers are aged 40 and under. Continue reading “NEW BIG IDEA CHALLENGE: STOP AGE DISCRIMINATION”

AGE TAKES THE LEAD AS A NEGATIVE IN POLITICS

An interesting societal shift seems to have pushed age (70 and above) into the undesirable position of  the most negative characteristic for a political candidate.

A Pew Research Center poll last year found that 55 percent of Americans said it would make no difference to them if the candidate was in his or her 70s. But 66 percent of Americans  said it would make no difference to them if a candidate was gay or lesbian and 71 percent  said it would make no difference if the candidate were female.  Thus, it  makes more difference to the public if candidates are in their 70s than if they are gay or lesbian or female.

At the same time, 36 percent of those polled said it was less likely that they would support a candidate in their 70s, compared to 27 percent who would be less likely to support candidates who are gay or lesbian and nine percent who are less likely to support female candidates.  So more Americans – of all ages – are less willing to vote for politicians in their 70s than they are for gay and lesbian and female candidates. Continue reading “AGE TAKES THE LEAD AS A NEGATIVE IN POLITICS”