Twenty-nine U.S. corporations so far have signed onto an “initiative” to discriminate against older workers through the “100,000 Opportunities Initiative.”
The “employer led coalition,” which has received the blessing of the Obama administration, blatantly violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA).
The Aspen Institute’s Forum for Community Solutions, which describes itself as an “intermediary” for the initiative in the hiring cities, issued a press release Wednesday stating that coalition employers will “make hundreds of immediate job offers” to disadvantaged “youth” between the ages of 16 to 24 in the Chicago area next week.
The ADEA unambiguously prohibits using age as a consideration in hiring. Starbucks, a corporate leader of the coalition, and U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez have failed to provide any legal justification for a hiring program that on its face violates the ADEA. Meanwhile, the media and the AARP have ignored this blatant demonstration of government-backed age discrimination by America’s top corporations.
In a press release, the Aspen Forum refers indirectly to the discriminatory nature of the program: “The participating companies are committed to diversity and equal employment opportunity, and the Opportunity Initiative does not prevent opportunities for older workers. Its purpose is to open up new opportunities that currently do not exist for some youth.”
The facts speak for themselves. Jobs will be designated for workers in a specific age group. Workers aged 40 and over are expressly excluded from applying for these jobs. That’s age discrimination in violation of the ADEA.
From Discriminators to Do-Gooders
By positioning the so-called initative as an effort to help disadvantaged youth, these corporations can accomplish something that they’ve done all along – discriminate against older workers who are mired in chronic long-term unemployment. But instead of being seen as discriminators, they are magically transformed into civic do-gooders.
The 100,000 Opportunities Initiative magically converts age discrimination into corporate philanthropy.
In the press release, Steve Patrick, Executive Director of the Aspen Forum for Community Solutions, celebrates the “unparalleled commitment on the part of employers” to participate in the 100,000 Opportunities Initiative. New partners to the coalition, which includes Starbucks, Microsoft and Walmart, are Chipotle Mexican Grill, Domino’s, FedEx, Hyatt, Mars, Nordstrom, Pizza Hut, Prudential, Red Robin, Sweetgreen, and T-Mobile
Blair Taylor, Starbucks chief community officer , said the effort represents an “unprecedented partnership” between the private and public sectors.
No one disagrees that jobless and disadvantaged young people need help but so do older workers. A recemt AARP survey showed that half of the people ages 45 to 70 who experienced unemployment during the past five years are not currently working, Employers have many options that do not involve illegal age discrimination, such as funding youth training programs and educational programs. Moreover, it is entirely possible that some of these employers want to recruit workers in inner cities and prefer to hire less expensive young workers who, despite their problems, are seen as more socially desirable.
The official launch of the 100,000 Opportunities Initiative is, Aug. 13 in Chicago.