In the past, the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging has been an advocate for older workers who are faced with age discrimination in employment.
However, the committee has done nothing about age discrimination in employment in recent years, even though millions of older workers lost their jobs and savings after Wall Street collapsed and were forced into a premature and impoverished retirement.
U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-ME, the chairperson of the committee, has yet to respond to a plea to address the failure of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to enforce the Age Discrimination in Employment Act a (ADEA) and its inequitable treatment of older workers.
The EEOC filed two lawsuits with age discrimination claims in 2016, a year in which it received more than 20,000 complaints of age discrimination. After much criticism, the EEOC filed 12 lawsuits with age discrimination claims in Fiscal 2017 but that is still far below its historical record. The EEOC filed 87 lawsuits with age discrimination claims a decade ago, and 120 lawsuits with age discrimination claims in 1993.
The EEOC has demonstrated gross unfairness – if not actual age discrimination – against older workers in its decision-making.
The EEOC recently condoned a hiring manager’s selection of job candidates based upon “cultural fit,” despite the fact this concept is increasingly disfavored in the American business community.
According to a March 21, 2017 article at Forbes.com, The End of Cultural Fit, the concept of ‘cultural fit’ was once the bedrock of corporate recruiting but today is widely considered taboo because it is fraught with bias.
“In some organizations ‘culture fit’ has become a weaponized phrase that interviewers use as a blanket term to reject candidates that don’t match the hiring manager’s view of the ideal candidate; and as such, it has become the embodiment of unconscious bias. ” writes author Lars Schmidt.
Overwhelming research shows that hiring managers harbor implicit or subconscious bias, including irrational prejudice or harmful stereotypes.
“Most interviewers are more likely to hire people like themselves and discount those who are different. This type of thinking hinders diversity and leads to homogenous cultures,” writes Schmidt.
Memo to EEOC: Even Facebook prohibits the use of the term “cultural fit” in hiring because it invites bias.
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.”