More complaints alleging age discrimination were filed by federal employees each year from 2010 to 2014 than complaints alleging race or disability discrimination.
The Annual Report on the Federal Work Force states that age was a basis for 4,697 complaints filed by federal employees in 2014, compared to 3,838 complaints of race discrimination and 3,817 complaints of (physical) disability. Age discrimination was, by far, the leading basis for complaints filed by federal employees each year during the four-year period, with a high of 5,314 age discrimination complaints filed in 2010.
Yet, the federal government, which is the nation’s largest employer, has done virtually nothing – if anything – to address the problem of age discrimination in federal employment. In fact, President Barack Obama made the problem considerably worse in 2010 when he signed an executive order to permit federal agencies to discriminate in hiring on the basis of age in hiring. The order exempts the federal government from the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), which expressly prohibits using age as a consideration in hiring.
President Obama couched his order permitting age discrimination in federal hiring as a diversity measure.
The president argued in his executive order that the federal government is at a disadvantage in hiring students and recent graduates because of civil service regulations (that were passed in 1871 to prevent cronyism and to ensure fairness in hiring). He added that “students and recent graduates … infuse the workplace with their enthusiasm, talents, and unique perspectives.” (Does this mean that older workers don’t?)
Underlying President Obama’s executive order is the assumption that America must choose between the worthy goal of nurturing young workers and the ideal of equal opportunity for all. But is this choice really necessary? The United States has the world’s largest national economy, with a gross domestic product estimated to be $17.914 trillion in 2015. The pie is big enough to make sound policy decisions that boost employment for younger workers without consigning older workers to irrational discrimination, chronic unemployment and poverty. Continue reading “Age Leads in Discrimination Complaints Filed by Federal Employees”
You might think it would be an embarrassment to our nation’s largest employer – the federal government – that corporate America is defending age discrimination in hiring by pointing out the U.S. government engages in the same behavior.
Most recently, the Equal Employment Advisory Council (EEAC), an association of America’s 250 largest corporations, filed a friend-of-the-court brief in an age discrimination case in which it opposed allowing older job applicants to file disparate impact lawsuits challenging broad-based discriminatory hiring practices. If they are allowed to do so, the EEAC warns, numerous federal programs “most certainly will be impacted… ”
The EEAC goes on to cite various federal training, education and hiring programs that are closed to older workers, including the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps, a residential program open to individuals between the ages of 18 and 24 who perform team-based national and community service, including disaster response and environmental stewardship. Members receive $4,000 for ten months of service, health benefits, $400 a month to pay for childcare and an educational award of $5,730.
Come to think of it, why can’t a 40-year-old join the Corps and dedicate a year of his/her life to community service for the same amount of remuneration?
Last May, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce filed a friend-of-the-court brief in which it defended age discrimination in hiring by noting that even the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) does it. The Chamber cited the EEOC Attorney Honor Program, which employs in “permanent” positions “third-year law student[s], “full-time graduate law students[s],” and “Judicial Law Clerk[s] whose clerkship must be [their] first significant legal employment following [their] graduation.” The EEOC states on its web site that graduates of the Honor Program go on to serve as trial attorneys or Administrative Judges in the EEOC’s District Offices. The EEOC program appears to have a disparate impact upon older workers because the vast majority of law school students and graduates are under the age of 40.
U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez announced this week that the White House will hold a “Summit on Worker Voice” on October 7 to “energize a new generation of Americans to come together and recognize the potential power of their voice at work.”
That’s great but … what about the “older generation” of American workers?
The Obama administration is currently engaging in the most outrageous assault on the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 since 2009. That’s the year that the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Gross v. FBL Financial Services that made it far more difficult to win a lawsuit alleging age discrimination than discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, national origin and color.
Obama signed an executive order in 2010 that permits federal agencies to discriminate against older workers.
More recently, Perez endorsed the 100,000 Opportunities Initiative, in which America’s leading corporations (Walmart, Starbucks, Microsoft, etc.) have announced plans to discriminate against older workers and hire ” youth” aged 16 – 24 for tens of thousands of part-time and full-time jobs. Neither Perez nor Starbucks, the main organizer of the initiative, have explained what legal justification exists for violating the plain the plain language of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967. Good intentions cannot justify violating federal discrimination laws.
Reach for American Dream
Perez applauds early labor advocates for the eight-hour work day and the weekend, noting these benefits were not inevitable but were “demanded by the working people of this nation … who wanted their chance to reach for the American dream.”
How can Perez and Obama justify making it more difficult for older workers to ‘reach for the American dream’?