Our Tampa based employment law firm has been seeing an increase in instances of older Americans being forced out of long-held employment positions.
For over 50 years, it has been illegal under the Federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act, or ADEA, for employers to treat older workers differently than younger ones with only a few exceptions, such as when a job requires high levels of stamina or quick reflexes.
Under the ADEA companies were barred from setting mandatory retirement ages lower than 65. The ADEA also required that retirements be voluntary decisions made by employees. Congress raised that to 70 and then, in 1986, largely prohibited mandatory retirement at any age.
Judges and policymakers treated the age law’s provisions as part of the nation’s fundamental civil rights protection against discrimination. However, to remain competitive with overseas companies U.S. based employers’ have been pleading for greater leeway with their workforce. Read about how IBM sought to ‘renew’ their workforce last year.
Federal appeals courts and the U.S. Supreme Court have reacted by widening the reach of the ADEA’s exceptions and restricting the law’s protections. Compounding this effect, most employers no longer offer traditional pensions. Traditional pensions once delivered an incentive for older workers to retire voluntarily.
Employer Driven Job Separations
The share of U.S. workers who’ve suffered financially damaging, employer-driven job separations after age 50 has risen steadily. Reports show that back in 1998 it was estimated to be at just over 10 percent, in 2016 is rose to almost 30 percent. Source: Data analysis by ProPublica and the Urban Institute, based on the Health and Retirement Study survey by the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research.
Some 58 percent of those with high school diplomas, who reached their 50’s with long term employment, faced a damaging layoff or other involuntary dismissal. Worse yet, it appears having more education provides little protection. Some 55 percent of those with college or graduate degrees experienced similar dismissals.
Those Most Affected Employees
This appears to be occurring across major industrial sectors and regions of the United States. It also appears to occur across all sexes, races and ethnicities. Although the data shows that a larger share of older African-American and Hispanic workers are forced out of work by poor health and family crises.
Once out, these former employees find it harder to regain the same level income and stability.
Layoffs are the most common way employees over 50 in the U.S. economy get pushed out of their positions. More than a third of those who sustain one major involuntary dismissal go on to experience others. In 2016, there was an estimated 19 million layoffs according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
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Contact Our Tampa Based Employment Law Firm
At Kwall Barack Nadeau PLLC, our Board Certified Labor & Employment Attorneys often consult with employees who have questions regarding their rights at their place of employment. Let our law firm know if you have any questions, comments or suggestions. Complete the contact form below and we will back to you promptly.