U.S. Sleeps While U.K. Tackles Age Discrim.

While the U.S. ignores the problem, the United Kingdom Monday announced a “world-leading new approach” to tackle age discrimination in employment there.

UK Employment Minister Esther McVey said the program will battle long-term unemployment among over-50 job seekers by providing them with training in resume and interview skills, the internet and social media. In addition, she said experts would provide older workers with “career reviews” to identify skills from previous jobs and  training needs.

The program will initially hire seven “older worker champions” across the UK who will focus on “going out to smaller and medium-sized businesses to ensure they recognise the benefits of hiring older workers” by challenging outdated stereotypes about older workers.

Long-term unemployment  in the UK fell by 16 percent overall in the past year – but joblessness among workers over the age of 50 fell by only 3.5 percent.   Almost  half (47 percent) of all unemployed people between 50 and 64 in the UK have been out of work for a year or more – this compares with 33 percent for those aged 18 to 24.

“The plight of unemployed older workers has gone under the radar for too long. There’s something fundamentally wrong with so many skilled and experienced people finding themselves locked out of the workplace simply because of their age,” McVey told BBC Radio 5 live.

In my book, Betrayed: The Legalization of Age Discrimination in the Workplace, I show that older workers in the United States  face blatant and unaddressed age discrimination in hiring but no one seems to care. The problem is hidden here behind terms like “long term unemployment” and “early writing.”

I show that the U.S. government has not only failed to address the problem but actually made it incrementally worse in 2010 when President Barack Obama signed an executive order permitting federal agencies to bypass older workers and hire “recent graduates.” Meanwhile,  the U.S. Congress has failed for five years to pass the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act, which would make it slightly easier for plaintiffs to win age discrimination lawsuits.

Epidemic age discrimination in the United States has devastating consequences for older workers, who are forced to spend down their savings until they age into a  financially insecure retirement where they suffer a 25 percent cut in Social Security benefits for the rest of their lives.

There are many facets to the problem of age discrimination in employment in the United States, not the least of which is that the problem seems to be invisible to federal policy makers.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 was weak and riddled with loopholes to begin with and has been eviscerated by the U.S. Supreme Court.  Older workers today are literally second-class citizens under U.S. law, with far less protection than individuals who are discriminated against on the basis of race, sex and religion.

And no American group has emerged to effectively advocate for older workers.

The White House is planning a conference on aging in 2015. In recent months, I have made repeated efforts to contact the executive director of the conference, Nora Super, to urge her to address the problem of age discrimination in employment. I even sent her a copy of my book.  I’ve received absolutely no response.

Comments

  1. Alice Thomas, J.D, says:

    Not only are seniors being discriminated against in employment, but Grandpa and Grandma are being thrown under the bus by our D.C. Politicians:
    1. Defined benefit pensions, almost extinct, are not protected when corporation files bankruptcy and 401k;s are not really an annuity like pension – whether a senior can retire in a comfortable life style depends on what (s)he has invested in and when (s)he retires. Those who lost their homes through foreclosures have lost their equity in their homes and probably monies they had counted on for retirement.
    2, The DC Politicians are already planning on reducing benefits for Social Security and Medicare (cal andcaid). The Chained CPI for Social Security, a stealth benefit cut, is being revived and D.C. politicians are already discussing privatizing Medicare – to a voucher program where seniors can try to find a plan.
    Then we have the prescription drug plan – a giveaway to the pharmaceuticl industry. The law was written deliberately to keep Medicare from negotiating price (like the Veterans Administration can) to to make illegal the importation of drugs from other countries – even Canada (where prices are negotiated) when drugs are made in the United States. This is why seniors pay more for their prescriptions.
    3. D.C. Politicians just passed a new law that will allow pension benefits being paid by unions for those with multiple employers can be cut. D.C. Politicians have already defanged unions – so it is more difficult if not impossible to negotiate for a living wage – with benefits – health coverage, paid vacations and pay for overtime pay. The courts have also contributed to this. Perhaps this is why wages have been flat and why there is such large inequality gap.
    4. Age discrimination in employment is the worst – D.C. politicians want to cut our Social Security and Medicare plus make us pay more than we should have to for prescription drugs – and then make it almost impossible for seniors to obtain paying employment. Strange!! Seniors are in demand for volunteer positions – they are qualified for many positions that should pay wages or a salary. LOOKS LIKE WE WILL ALL HAVE TO GO TO U.K. TO FIND PAYING EMPLOYMENT!!!!

    It is more than a little sickening to learn about 1% and multinational corporations who pay very little or no income tax while seniors, if you earn over a certain amount, pay income taxes on your Social Security – when you already paid income taxes on the monies deducted from your wages for Social Security. All wages should be taxed the same – those with capital gains income pay less income taxes than those who WORK for a living – and don’t have to pay Social Secrity or Medicare tax. The corporations earn profits here and have more to protect than most of us so they should pay more taxes – much of our tax revenue goes to the military and national defense – to protect them and their huge amounts of money and assets.
    Connect the dots – all of the middle class is being wiped out – but worse for seniors because they won’t have time to regain what they lost in the last recession. And being discriminated in employment makes that even worse.

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