Hypocrisy in the non-profit sector is particularly nauseating (for obvious reasons) but the United Nations may take the cake with its rule on mandatory retirement.
The U.N. General Assembly in 2015 adopted a resolution that will take effect on January 1, 2018 to raise its mandatory retirement age from 60 to 65.
In October 2016, the organization hired as its new leader António Guterres, who is 67.
Firstly, how can it be acceptable for an organization to force out perfectly competent workers on their 65th birthday but exempt the leadership of the organization? According to the U.N. resolution, a worker can continue to work after age 65 only in “exceptional circumstances” and “when it is in the interest of the Organization.”
Secondly, why age 65? That makes as much sense as age 60. It’s a arbitrary age. There is no basis to conclude that workers – especially office workers – suddenly decline at a particular age. Guterres is an example of the fact that aging is individualistic and depends on many factors that have nothing to do with a calendar.
Zero Discrimination Day – Except for Age Discrimination?
On March 1, the U.N. celebrated “Zero Discrimination Day,” which it says celebrates everyone’s right to live a full life with dignity regardless of age, gender, sexuality, nationality, ethnicity, skin color, height, weight, profession, education, and beliefs.
Maybe someone should tell the U.N. that mandatory retirement is a form of age discrimination. It was banned in the U.S. in 1967 under the U.S. Age Discrimination in Employment Act, except with respect to a few limited categories (ex. public safety workers, high ranking executives, elected officials, etc.). Presumably the United Nations is exempted from the ADEA through a treaty.
Few would argue that age discrimination is an irrational and harmful form of discrimination that effectively denies older workers the right to work. Possibly high paid staffers at the U.N. don’t need to earn money after age 65 but workers around the world do.