Happy 50th Birthday, Age Discrimination in Employment Act!

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) turned 50 this summer, and to celebrate this milestone, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued a report: The State of Older Workers and Age Discrimination 50 Years After the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).

As the report notes: Even with a booming economy and low unemployment, older workers still report they have difficulties getting hired. Despite decades of research finding that age does not predict ability or performance, employers often fall back on precisely the ageist stereotypes the ADEA was enacted to prohibit. More than six in ten workers age 45 and older say they have seen or experienced age discrimination in the workplace. Of those, 90 percent say it is somewhat or very common, according to a 2017 survey. Women, especially older women but also those at middle age, were subjected to more age discrimination than older men, as found in a 2015 study of more than 40,000 job applicants.

To help employers avoid age discrimination in the modern multigenerational workforce, the EEOC offers some suggestions:

  • Value age diversity. Research demonstrates that age diversity can improve organizational performance and lower employee turnover. Studies also find that mixed-age work teams result in higher productivity for both older and younger workers. Age should be part of your organization’s diversity and inclusion programs and efforts.
  • Revamp hiring. Websites and social media that include age-diverse photos, graphics, and content demonstrate a commitment to attracting a multi-generational workforce. Educate interviewers and recruiters on how to avoid making ageist assumptions about candidates. For instance, the assumption that younger workers are a better investment because they will be with the employer longer is wrong. Millennials leave their employers, on average, after three years, whereas older workers, on average, provide employers with more stability, longer tenures, and ultimately a greater return on investment.
  • Develop effective retention strategies. Provide career counseling, training and development opportunities to workers at all ages and at all stages of their careers. Workers age 50 and older have the highest levels of engagement in the workplace, and high employee engagement increases employee productivity.

What this means to you: Hiring the right candidates can put your company ahead of the competition, reduce the high cost of turnover, and lessen discrimination claims. In our Hiring the Best workshop, managers learn staffing strategies that will support them in selecting top talent and avoid the wrong candidates while minimizing legal risk. Considerations regarding a diverse (multi-generational and multi-cultural) workforce are among the topics discussed in this fast-paced interactive program.

To find out more about our national HR training programs or to book a workshop, please call 800-458-2778, email training@fairmeasures.com.

Posted 08-13-2018

Information here is correct at the time it is posted. Case decisions cited here may be reversed. Please do not rely on this information without consulting an attorney first.


About the Author:

Ann Kiernan has litigated claims of wrongful discharge and discrimination before state and federal courts and administrative matters before the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights, the National Labor Relations Board and the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, representing both employers and employees. Ms. Kiernan co-hosted The Employee Rights Forum, a weekly radio call-in show reaching up to a half-million listeners in the New York metropolitan area, and her articles on employment law have been published in many books and magazines. Both as a firm partner and as a director, Ms. Kiernan gained solid experience in management and human resources compliance. She has worked with Fair Measures since 1997.