EEOC safe harbor could help older workers land new jobs

Nearly every day, hundreds of Americans over the age of 50 lose their jobs due to corporate downsizing. These workers remain unemployed for longer periods than do younger workers and are more likely to leave the workforce entirely. The rise of long-term joblessness among middle-aged Americans is straining public resources, contributing to drug use and harming economic growth.

What can be done? Paradoxically, federal laws against age discrimination also discourage companies from taking a chance on older job applicants. That’s why the key to helping older workers find jobs is to reduce the costs of letting them go.

The United States has been a global leader in protecting workers from employment discrimination on the basis of age. The federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and similar state laws bar employers from treating older workers differently than their younger counterparts with respect to wages, benefits and other working conditions. These laws have had a largely beneficial effect for older people who already have jobs. But they make it harder for the unemployed to find work. FULL ARTICLE