The AARP has devoted an issue of its monthly publication to age discrimination in which it announces that ageism remains an “accepted bias” and assures readers that it is “fighting” the problem
But the AARP fails to note that the AARP quashed a story that was supposed to run in the issue about the federal government’s Pathway’s Program, which excludes older workers from federal jobs, reportedly because it didn’t want to jeopardize its federal grants or rock the boat.
The AARP also omits the fact that it virtually ignored age discrimination until after the 2014 publication of my groundbreaking book, Betrayed: The Legalization of Age Discrimination in the Workplace. which exposes the failure of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) to protect older workers during and since the Great Recession.
It should be noted that I was interviewed at length by the author of the AARP story, Joe Kita, who repeats some of the findings of my book and my general research on the topic in his article without attribution. It’s not clear whether Kita omitted attribution or the AARP did, in retaliation for writing a story for Forbes.com about the AARP’s decision to spike Kita’s companion story about age discrimination in hiring by the federal government.
My purpose here is to convey my frustrating experience over the years of lobbying the AARP to act on age discrimination. The AARP has been a reluctant advocate for years, possibly to curry favor with the Obama and Trump administrations, which have considered revamping health care. The AARP is the leading purveyor of Medi-Gap health insurance to seniors in the country.
The following articles were written for this blog, before I established a separate blog dedicated solely to age discrimination in 2015, Age Discrimination in Employment.
WANTED: Advocacy Group to Help Older Workers (2014)
- On August 2, 2014, I wrote a story entitled, “WANTED: Advocacy Group to Help Older Workers.” I noted the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act (POWADA) had languished for five years, adding, “If the AARP Foundation wants to continue to collect money to advocate for the rights of older workers… it should demand action on Capitol Hill. If this is too uncomfortable for the offspring of a behemoth medical sales organization, then we need a new organization that is willing to do the job.”
- In September 2014, I emailed the president of the AARP and the director of the AARP Foundation, explained the legal inequality of older workers and suggested several ways to fight age discrimination, including using social media to garner support for the POWADA.
- On December 4, 2014, I wrote an article noting that AARP Foundation President Lisa Ryerson had forwarded my request for an appointment to the head of the AARP Foundation’s legal team who in turn forwarded my request to two lower rung AARP officials. I talked to these officials at length about the legal inequality of older workers and fact the POWADA had languished in Congress for five years. One of them subsequently sent me an email “thanking me for my interest but stating that the AARP was already doing some of the things on my list.”
Why Isn’t the AARP lobbying Congress to provide equal justice for older workers? (2015)
- On March 20, 2015, I wrote an article entitled, “The AARP: Surveys But No Solutions.” I wrote: “Why isn’t the AARP lobbying Congress to provide equal justice for older workers? The AARP surveys generate a lot of wonderful free publicity for the AARP, which makes it appear that the AARP is actually doing something. But the reality is that no one is doing anything about the problem of age discrimination in the workplace … .”
- On April 27, 2015, I wrote an article complaining the Obama administration had partnered with the AARP on the White House Council on Aging, despite the AARP’s obvious conflict of interest as the nation’s leading purveyor of Medi-Gap health insurance. The focus of the conference was “healthy aging.”
- On July 20, 2015, I wrote an article noting the White House Council on Aging, in partnership with the AARP, had refused multiple calls to seriously examine the problem of age discrimination in employment in the wake of the Great Recession, which wrought financial havoc on older Americans.
AARP profits rise astronomically while older workers suffer. (2015)
- On July 29, 2015, I wrote an article entitled, “AARP Profits While Older Workers Struggle.” I noted the AARP’s assets had risen 40.8 percent since 2010, while older workers struggled with chronic unemployment and poverty. I wrote: “Is it really too much to ask the AARP to use some of its riches to do more than just take surveys – to act to insure that older workers are treated equally under the law, and not subjected to bogus restructurings and downsizings, chronic unemployment and poverty in old age? Fifty years of inequality is enough.”
- On December 15, 2015, I wrote an article entitled, “AARP Official Calls Out EEOC On Age Discrimination.” An AARP official bemoaned the fact that the EEOC had filed only three age discrimination lawsuits since 2009, adding, “That said, we could only find a few more age-based harassment cases discussed in news releases going back to 2009.” He claimed the AARP lacks the resources to do more.
- On July 29, 2015, I wrote an article noting the AARP was silent about the Obama administration’s endorsement of an age biased employment initiative by Starbucks, Walmart and Microsoft as well as the Pathways Program operated by the federal government that blatantly discriminates against older workers.
- In June 1, 2017, I wrote a story entitled, “EEOC & AARP: The Willfully Blind Leading The Willfully Blind?” The EEOC announced it would hold a training event for employers to mark the 50th anniversary of the ADEA. I wrote: “The invited guest speaker is Jo Ann Jenkins, the CEO of the AARP, an organization that has done virtually nothing in 50 years to address the fundamental legal inequality of older workers in the United States and for years has accorded mere lip service to the epidemic of age discrimination in employment that began during the Great Recession.”
- On August 10, 2017, I wrote an article entitled “The Sleeping Bear Awakens: The AARP Questions the Legal Inequality of Older Workers.” I wrote: “An attorney for the AARP was quoted in The New York Times recently as stating that the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 ‘may not be up to the task.’ This represents a profound shift for the AARP, which has done little in recent years (if anything) to acknowledge the fundamental legal inequality of older workers under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967.”
Yes, it would be nice to think the AARP is getting serious about age discrimination in employment in 2020, though it might be wise to wait before counting the proverbial chickens. And, by the way, the POWADA has now languished in a Congressional committee for ten years.