Although the Age Discrimination in Employment Act has helped bring equality and fairness to the workplace for older employees over the past 50 years, age discrimination persists based on outdated and unfounded assumptions about older workers, aging and discrimination, according to a report released Tuesday by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The 54-page report was timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the ADEA going into effect.
“As we’ve studied the current state of age discrimination this past year in commemorating the ADEA, we’ve seen many similarities between age discrimination and harassment,” Acting EEOC Chair Victoria A. Lipnic said in a statement. “Like harassment, everyone knows it happens every day to workers in all kinds of jobs, but few speak up. It’s an open secret.”
Only approximately 3% of those who have experienced age discrimination have complained to their employer or a government agency, according to recent research cited in the report. Studies have found that more than three-fourths of older workers surveyed report that their age is an obstacle in securing a job, the EEOC said. Even with a booming economy and low unemployment, older workers still report difficulties getting hired, the agency said.
“No one should be denied a job based on stereotypes, and it’s time to put these outdated assumptions to rest,” the report states. “Ability, experience and commitment matter, not age. To achieve the promise of the ADEA, it’s time to recognize the value of age diversity in the workplace and the benefits of a multi-generational workforce.”
Personal care aides and registered nurses are two of the top five jobs held by working women aged 62 or more years, the report notes.
Making age a consideration in diversity and inclusion programs and instituting age-diverse hiring panels can help prevent age discrimination, according to experts cited in the report. Such efforts to improve age diversity can raise organizational performance and lower employee turnover, the EEOC said, citing research. Studies also have found that mixed-age work teams result in higher productivity for both older and younger workers, according to the report.
“Today’s experienced workers are healthier, more educated and working and living longer than previous generations,” Lipnic wrote. “Age-diverse teams and workforces can improve employee engagement, performance and productivity. Experienced workers have talent that our economy cannot afford to waste.”