EEOC & AARP: The Willfully Blind leading the Willfully Blind?

You can’t make this stuff up.

The EEOC has announced that age discrimination will be a “special focus” of its major annual “training event” for employers  later this month to mark the 50th anniversary of enactment of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).

The invited guest speaker is Jo Ann Jenkins, the CEO of the AARP, an organization that has done virtually nothing in 50 years to address the fundamental legal inequality of older workers in the United States and for years has accorded mere lip service  to the epidemic of age discrimination in employment that began during the Great Recession.

Of course, the EEOC under Democratic President Barack Obama’s administration also did virtually nothing about the problem of age discrimination in employment. The EEOC last year filed exactly two lawsuits with age discrimination claims, despite receiving more than 20,000 complaints of age discrimination. The EEOC today arguably does more to protect employers from the consequences of illegal age discrimination than it does to protect older workers from illegal age discrimination. It remains to be seen whether GOP President Donald Trump and EEOC Acting Chair Victoria A.  Lipnic will choose do any better.

The EEOC press release states the CEO of the AARP and the EEOC Acting Chair  will engage in a “candid conversation about age discrimination.”   Maybe they could start by explaining why both organizations have completely ignored the problem for decades.

I respectfully suggest  Jenkins and Lipnic obtain a copy of my groundbreaking book, Betrayed: The Legalization of Age Discrimination in the Workplace, which candidly describes the epic failure of the federal government protect older workers from irrational and devastating age discrimination in employment. Up to now, both the EEOC and the AARP have  completely ignored the book, which received an excellent review from The ABA Commission on Law and Aging.

Compared to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the ADEA was weak when it was adopted in 1967 and it  was subsequently eviscerated by the U.S. Supreme Court. Meanwhile, Congress has fiddled. Title VII prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, sex, gender, religion, national origin and color. Unlike Title VII, the ADEA permits “reasonable” age discrimination and provides  minimal damages. One federal circuit court has even ruled that job applicants have no protection from blatant age discrimination in hiring  under the ADEA.

According to the EEOC: “Jenkins has been described as a visionary ‘thought leader’ and a catalyst for breakthrough results at the nation’s largest social welfare organization with nearly 38 million members.”  Well, I suppose you  gotta give her credit for boosting AARP revenues. The AARP is literally making billions from the sale of health insurance to seniors, not to mention internet service, cruises, eyeglasses, dining deals, investment plans, smartphones, etc.

The  EXCEL (Examining Conflicts in Employment Laws) conference will be held in Chicago on June 27-29. The EEOC states it will provide “the employer community”  with tools and strategies to address emerging issues in equal employment opportunity.

The conference, described as the agency’s primary annual event, is geared toward EEO managers, supervisors, practitioners, HR professionals, attorneys, ADR specialists and other interested parties in both the federal and private sectors.

Fix the ‘Blacklisting’ Rule

President Donald Trump has officially revoked  the so-called “Blacklisting” executive order that was signed by former President Barack H. Obama in 2014 to encourage federal contractors to obey labor laws.

That’s a shame.  It’s smart public policy to save federal tax dollars by encouraging voluntary compliance with federal law. However, in truth, Obama’s executive order was needlessly flawed and arguably unconstitutional..

As written, the blacklisting rule required contractors seeking federal contracts over $500,000 to report both alleged labor violations and adjudicated violations to federal agencies. Federal agencies could then use the information  to award future contracts, cancel existing contracts, and potentially demand remedial action to address a pattern of violations.

It should be obvious even to a high school student that the federal government can’t penalize a contractor that is merely accused of a labor law violation. What if the contractor is innocent? Contractors have a right to due process of law under the U.S. Constitution. [Read more…]