On Monday December 4, a bipartisan group of members in Congress re-introduced the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act. If passed, this bill would change the burden of proof in age discrimination cases.
Because of a Supreme Court decision in 2009, a plaintiff has to prove that age discrimination was the primary reason for an action taken by an employer. So the employer can fairly easily argue that an action they took was for any number of plausible reasons other than age discrimination.
With this bill, the plaintiff will just have to prove that age discrimination occurred, period. It doesn’t matter if it wasn’t the “primary” reason; if age discrimination occurred at all, the employer would be at fault. In this way, age discrimination will be treated under the law in the same way as other forms of discrimination.
Writing/emailing your Congressional representative about the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act
Let YOUR Congressional representatives know that you would like them to strongly support this bill.
Who is my representative?
You can find your elected officials and their contact information on either of these sites by entering your address:
Note: In this case, you are writing/emailing your representative in the U.S. Congress
What should I say?
Keep in short and sweet–here is a sample letter:
Dear Congressman/Congresswoman NAME:
Opening: I am writing to strongly urge you to support the bipartisan Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act of 2023.
Personal reason for supporting: As someone who interacts with hundreds of older Coloradans monthly, I hear constant stories of older people across our state who very much want and need to work, and cannot find work despite the fact that employers desperately need workers. When people don’t work, they can’t spend money, support their families. I’ve heard countless stories from older people on the verge of losing their homes because they can’t pay rent.
Age discrimination accounts for part of this puzzling paradox. Data from AARP shows that almost 4 in 5 workers age 45 and up have experienced or witnessed workplace age discrimination.
Why this is important. Workplace age discrimination is of concern not only to older workers, but also to our economy. in 2018, the United States missed out on a potential $850 billion in GDP because those age 50 and older who wished to remain in or re-enter the labor force, switch jobs, or be promoted within their existing company were not given that opportunity, according to a study from AARP and the Economist Intelligence Unit in 2020.
If passed, this bill will treat age discrimination in the same way as other forms of workplace discrimination, and discourage employers from pushing out, or not hiring, older workers. II strongly urge your support.
Want to do more?
For more information on how to reach out to your elected officials and more ways to become involved in the movement to end ageism, check out Changing the Narrative’s Ageism Activism Center.