This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”).
This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”), which prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of age. As the U.S. population ages and the number of employees reaching traditional retirement age increases, employers may need to do more to attract and retain older workers, many of whom are highly experienced, knowledgeable and skilled. According to a 2017 AARP survey, nearly two-thirds of workers age 55-64 report their age is a barrier to getting a job. The EEOC, which enforces the ADEA, is paying special attention to age discrimination this year, which has been identified as an inhibitor to job growth. To attract or retain older workers, employers may need to rethink traditional workplace practices and policies that may be pushing older workers out of the workforce. Lack of preparation for an aging workforce, when combined with negative perceptions about older workers, can greatly influence workplace dynamics and may contribute to an increase in age-related discrimination lawsuits.
To avoid potential litigation, employers can take action to promote age demographics of their workforce:
Employers should develop hiring policies and practices to select individuals with specific talents, experiences, and perspectives from diverse age groups. Focus on the applicant’s competence, not age or tenure. Competitive benefits and flexible work options are also important components of any recruitment package designed to address both the financial concerns and benefit use among older workers.
Employee participation is essential to employee performance. Employers should develop workplace practices and strategies that promote employee participation in decision-making that affect workload; create opportunities for any employee to receive training and technical support to develop new skills and abilities; and provide access to flexible work options which are especially important to older workers.
Employers should develop workplace policies and strategies to encourage aging employees to work past the traditional retirement age. Design more flexible work schedules such as alternative work hours, shorter work weeks or providing the ability to work from home for some portion of the time to accommodate family care responsibilities or their own physical limitations.
Maximizing the value of older workers can not only diminish the potential for age discrimination claims, but also help promote employment opportunities and economic growth for any employer. An employer’s ability to recognize the strengths of a multi-generational workforce is essential to hiring and retaining workers of all ages
If you are an employer and would like to do more to prevent age discrimination in the workplace, or defend against age discrimination claims, contact Siana Bellwoar.
This post was written by Christine D. Steere, Esquire.
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