Age Discrimination Masquerades as Good Deed

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.

3 thoughts on “Age Discrimination Masquerades as Good Deed”

  1. Age discrimination is unlawful — why do these employers think they are above the law? As a longtime former NLRB former employee, I can testify from my observation that unlawful age discrimination starts even at ground central for employee rights. As older employees — those over age at 40, at which age discrimination, bizarrely starts, let us stand united and say “No, all corporations and government agencies are bound by the law.” As if any of us, the fortunate ones, don’t eventually reach 40, at which time, who doesn’t know more, have more to contribute to his/her organization/government agency than younger employees? Let us stand united and firm — experience has value and longtime dedication should be rewarded! My prayers for strength for all those 40 plus workers and even managers — and my prayers for clarity for all managers to recognize the proven value of 40-plus employees. That age comes fast — and fast for all of us — to all of us. As our average age is increasing — past 80 and approaching 90 — we need to think — if the average professional employee is hired at about age 25, is it really wise to encourage employers to “dump” employees at age 40-55 — the math doesn’t add up. We need our employees, from a mere statistically perspective. And that is not even to mention the legal requirements and the greater experience and wisdom of the older (post-40 age) employees. We must not let the discrimination of ageism to gain traction. As all of us over 40 can testify, that age comes quickly and it does not regress. We have profound value, which the economy, not to mention social justice, cannot afford to sacrifice! I wish young employees all the best, but not at the price of the sacrifice of employees/managers who have given decades of dedicated work. It is to all of our advantages — young and older — to respect the contributions of older, more experienced employees — not to mention, the laws that make doing otherwise unlawful.Let all of us who are 40 plus or, hopefully, expect to join that group, stand firm — in our lawful rights and in our proven, experienced worth!

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