Media outlets often portray the nation’s job market as being the almost exclusive preserve of a new generation of young and tech savvy workers, and it may therefore be surprising for Maryland residents to learn that more than a third of the American workforce will be over 50 years of age by 2022. Nonetheless, workers with a few decades of experience under their belts face discrimination in the workplace.
Lawmakers safeguarded the rights of older workers in 1967 by passing the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, but these protections have been eroded over time by a number of Supreme Court rulings. One of the most significant of these rulings came in 2009 when the nation’s highest court ruled that the 1967 law’s provisions only apply when age is the main cause of an employee being terminated rather than one of a number of factors.
Employers sometimes weed out older workers because they earn more than their younger counterparts, and they are often reluctant to hire more mature job applicants because they fear that they could lack vital IT expertise. However, most employers are careful enough to disguise these motives. Employers have been known to move older workers to far-flung locations in the hope that they would quit rather than face long commutes, and help wanted ads sometimes use coded language to put off more seasoned applicants or request skills that older workers are unlikely to possess.
These tactics are designed to protect employers from discrimination complaints while accomplishing the goal of eliminating older workers. Experienced employment law attorneys may be familiar with this type of strategy and how difficult it can be to prove age discrimination, and they might encourage their clients to gather as much documentation as possible before filing a complaint and not to sign waivers or other legal documents without obtaining legal advice first.