Judge, gavel, courtroom

A bipartisan group of senators re-introduced a measure Monday aimed at making it easier for older Americans to bring work-related age discrimination cases against their employers.

The Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act, sponsored by Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) and co-sponsored by Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), would amend the Age Discrimination in Employment Act to restore plaintiffs’ burden of proof to where it had been before a ruling in a 2009 Supreme Court case (Gross vs. FBL Financial Services) established a more stringent standard. The ADEA prohibits employment discrimination against those aged 40 or more years. 

Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) introduced a companion bill in the House of Representatives.

Currently, workers who allege age discrimination must meet an undue legal burden not faced by workers alleging discrimination based on race, sex, national origin or religion.

“As more Americans are remaining in the workforce longer, we must recognize and address the challenges that aging workers face,” Casey said. “We must make it clear to employers that age discrimination is unacceptable, and we must strengthen antidiscrimination protections that are being eroded.” The passage of POWADA would level the playing field for older workers and ensure that they are able to fight back against age discrimination in the workplace, he added.

A survey conducted by AARP found that more than three in five workers aged 45 or older reported seeing or experiencing age discrimination in the workplace. The survey also found that three-fourths of these workers cited age discrimination as a reason for their lack of confidence in being able to find a new job. 

“Everyone — regardless of their age — should be able to go to work every day knowing that they are protected from discrimination. Unfortunately, age discrimination in the workplace is depriving older workers of opportunities and exposing them to long-term unemployment and severe financial hardship,” Scott said. “The Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act is a bipartisan bill that would finally restore the legal rights of older workers by ensuring that the burdens of proof in age discrimination claims are treated in the same manner as other discrimination claims.”