The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) was passed in 1967. A Labor Department report leading to its passage noted that, at the time, half of all job ads in the private sector explicitly barred applications from people 55 or over. A quarter excluded anyone over 45.
Can employers legally limit the ages of job prospects by recruiting only on college campuses? Can they cap the years of experience applicants are allowed to have? Can they set up social media recruitment campaigns that exclude older people? Or would taking active steps to minimize a job's visibility to workers over 40 violate the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)?
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits discrimination against workers 40 and over. While the law prohibits discrimination in any aspect of employment, including hiring, it is unclear whether the ADEA prohibits a certain type of discrimination called "disparate impact" discrimination in hiring. One federal court ruled that it does not. Now, a second federal court has ruled the opposite.
Recently, the independent, nonprofit investigative journalism newsroom ProPublica released a detailed analysis of massive personnel changes at IBM that it believes indicate age discrimination.
Establishing an effective workplace and strong culture starts at the top for any company. When managers and supervisors model correct behavior, it sets the tone for others to follow. As a result, companies can realize tangible benefits by properly training their managers and supervisors. Proper training of supervisors will include:
Companies in the tech industry have been faced accusations of age discrimination for years. Now, according to a recent lawsuit filing, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is investigating Google for its hiring practices, including allegations of age discrimination. This lawsuit was filed by Cheryl Fillekes, a 47-year old systems engineer who was turned down for employment by Google. Ms. Fillekes and other older workers who claim discrimination by Google are seeking certification as a class action.
Age is one of the protected classes under employment law, meaning that people cannot be discriminated against in the workplace or in hiring decisions. However, many older unemployed Maryland residents would likely tell you that age discrimination is a major problem that greatly affects the chances of those over 40 to find employment.
In Greenbelt and throughout the metro D.C. area, workplace discrimination is not the same issue that it once was--it exists, but it has evolved. Companies do not often publicly fire a worker because she is a woman or because he has a disability, as this type of blatant discrimination has become unpopular over time. But, discrimination still plays an unfortunate role in hiring and firing decisions as well as daily life in the workplace.