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Out of Work and over 40-Age Discrimination and What You Can Do
Baby Boomers are a majority of the workers in this category. What are you going to do about it?
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Why is age discrimination occurring?
The average worker is remaining employed longer than a mere 20 years ago. The median retirement age has increased to a little over 72 years of age and continues to climb. People are working longer for a number of reasons and with this being said it takes a toll on the resources in place for a companies employees. Employers on the whole are not thrilled to have an aging employee population and are taking steps to relieve themselves of the burden.
Why a worker over 40 a bad thing
This imagined hardship is that an older category of workers uses more resources than younger counterparts. They eat up more time and money overall. The general belief is the more baby boomers, workers over age 40, the less profits a business is likely to see. The answer to the equation is decreases the aging working populace. This is why age discrimination occurs with those over the age of 40 and why lots of these same folks are out of work. Businesses are taking steps to address the issue and tip the scales in favor of the younger ones.
Is there a difference in workers?
Older workers are believed to be different on a number of fronts. Workers over the age of 40 are more likely to have larger amounts of accumulated vacation time and earn a higher salary. For whatever reason they use more health insurance benefits and are more likely to be injured when working physical jobs. They are even more resistant to changes in policy, procedure or working conditions than a younger worker. All of these things relate to costing corporations more monies and earning less profits.
The worst out of all of the grievances is injury on the job. Injuries are one of the worst possible scenarios. They will more than likely apply for workers compensation, use more health insurance and take longer to recover. Some even become disabled or remain off long enough to dip into retirement. Retirement is a killjoy because this is a paycheck going out without any type of production coming in. Giving workers over 40 a boot out the door is the only answer seen by more than a few of these establishments.
Is this really happening?
As the age of retirement increases, the number of people working over the age of 40 increases as well. This number is not growing at the calculated normal rate. Instead it is falling. This being said the number of jobless individuals in this group is becoming larger. This takes place only if these same people are being fired, not hired or retired early. There are allowances made for factors such as technology and education, but the records show it does take place more often than most people realize.
These are several ways employers perform this dirty deed. If this is happening to you there are things to do to remedy the situation. Knowledge is power.
Mandatory Early Retirement
Large employers sometimes implement a mandatory early retirement policy. Whether a worker feels it is time to call it quits or not, the decision is made on a worker's behalf. This hurts countless individuals. These are the same business entities which pay employees more retirement salary for every five year mark past the age of 55. For instance, retirement at age 65 versus age 60 means a bigger monthly check. Sometimes even more benefits after leaving. Being asked to leave at 60 does not give the extras seen by staying till age 65.
An actuarial department reviews the numbers and determines what percentage of the working populace in a company is close to retirement age. The age of focus is typically 55 or older. Forcing workers out because of the date of birth is seen more often now than any other time in history.
Layoffs often happen for a number of reasons. Over expansion, changes in the economy, new ownership, etc. Most of the time employees are not in on the reasons. The typical response given to workers is slowed down workloads. Layoffs are done and jobs are loss in a large group. They do have the right to layoff employees with the option to call them back to work if something changes.
How they get the numbers skewed is laying off old folks along with younger counterparts. When calling workers back to the fold, conveniently avoid anyone over 40 years of age.
Outsourcing is a dreaded word by any means in the American economy. Lots of businesses are renaming the same practice with something "softer" or "kinder" sounding. It is all the same in the end, employees are replaced by a cheaper workforce.
If an area of the company has a large populace of older workers, outsource an entire department and lay off the whole area. This gets an enormous amount of them out the door without the benefit of retirement. When the company takes this action a worker understands there is no call back such as a layoff return to work.
Outsourcing work to another country really saves the company. overall no matter what the age of the worker. No extra benefits like health insurance or workers comp to worry about sounds wonderful. Additionally, the pay for the same work is greatly reduced. Although, a younger less experienced worker with less seniority is more likely a heck of a lot cheaper than the baby boomer.
A major change in technology of a work force without providing proper training or instruction is a sure way to get folks out the door. New technology is less familiar to older workers. This is another great ploy to get the dirty deed done.
Learning new tech and application without the education, skills or training is difficult. Lots of times the younger generation has the benefit of growing up on it and never knowing anything else which makes it extremely easy to transition. They are more likely to grasp lots of new concepts readily.
It is a sink or swim environment created with these decisions. These workers are gone out the door after not conforming to the new work surroundings or way of doing things. Is it fair to short cut all simply because some are able to take the short cut? Everyone learning the basics is a good thing in the long run. Sometimes shortcuts cost the company in the long run.
Adult learners absorb knowledge differently. A trainer more than half of the age of the employee unable to communicate skills to someone of a different generation or learning curve hurts everyone. Although, forcing the aged workers out for this reason looks good up front.
Lots of states have enabled laws which allow an employer to fire anyone without "just" cause. This means termination without giving a reason for the action. This is where discrimination will come in under the protection of an obscure law. Even if they admit no discrimination,there was no reason given so how does one really know?
The no cause firing of older workers and others who feel they were discriminated against are taking the matter before state judges in the form of lawsuits. Fired whenever they feel the need to do so is abuse of power in nearly all cases.
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Younger workers tend to use less of company resources such as healthcare and other benefits. In an effort to get rid of the issue of baby boomers, more than a few companies are taking a stand and not getting them off of the payroll. There are changes made which affect the numbers and skew them more positively in favor of latter group more than the former. Hiring staff makes an effort to hire more new workers from a particular age group versus another. This means applicants born before a specific year are overlooked regardless of qualifications.
What is next? Hitting back
What to do about it
There are several safeguards which have been established to make certain this type of behavior does not take place. Though, it does take place time and time again. There are some things an individual is capable of doing to protect the right to work after age 40.
Unions have been around for decades. They are established to protect workers individual rights by pulling a single worker together as part of a larger group. More voices are heard before a single voice.
These are groups designed to protect a worker when they have a grievance. The union has reps which contact the company and attempt to work out an agreement between the two parties. They also have attorneys to become involved if a discussion is not enough to find a satisfactory place of agreement though discussion.
These attorneys are paid by the union and work on behalf of the employee. Sometimes if more than one employee has the same grievance there are strikes or refusals to work by a larger group of workers which makes the company reassess a situation and an earlier decision in favor of the worker.
There are local unions, state unions and even federal unions. They no longer have the power they possessed decades ago, but they still have some sway.
A personal attorney specializing in discrimination claims are all over the country. They specifically take on battles with companies when a worker experiences discrimination. The cost is typically discussed beforehand and they are able to let an individual know if there is a case to be made on their behalf.
A case proved in court is worth lots of money. Federal and state law prohibit the practice and a monetary settlement is the general course of events. Most settle out of court, but a trial is a possibility. Unfortunately, these are typically years in the making and in the meantime there is no paycheck coming in.
Dept of Labor
The Dept of Labor is a federal entity designed to help workers know their rights in the workplace. Contacting this segment of government is the right thing to do if unsure of whether or not a discrimination has taken place against you. They are able to answer questions and tell a worker the laws in relationship to a specific circumstance.
Even if you are not over the age of 40 now, you will be eventually one day. This does concern everyone.
All of these examples are practices that are discriminatory against employees because of age. If you feel you have been discriminated against because of your age, contact your Department of Labor or the ACLU in your local community for assistance and direction on what to do next.
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