Bipartisan legislation announced Wednesday aims to protect older workers from age discrimination in the workplace.

The Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act, led by Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA), is co-sponsored by Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Susan Collins (R-ME), Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).

The bill would level the playing field for older workers and restore safeguards against age-based discrimination, according to Casey, chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging. “After fighting in our wars, teaching our children and building our nation, older Americans deserve to age with dignity,” he stated.

POWADA is needed, Casey said, because the Supreme Court ruled in 2009 in Gross v. FBL Financial Services that workers who face age discrimination must meet a higher burden of proof than workers who face discrimination based on other characteristics, such as race, sex, national origin or religion.

The legislation would amend the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the retaliation provision in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 

“The bill would restore the pre-Gross standard, recognizing once again the legitimacy of so-called ‘mixed-motive’ claims in which discrimination is a, if not the deciding, factor,” Casey said. “It would also reaffirm that workers may use any type of admissible evidence to prove their claims.”

In a recent American Staffing Association survey conducted by the Harris Poll, 43% of surveyed retirees said that ageism was a barrier to finding work in their older years. Many organizations tend to overlook age in their markers for diversity, inclusion and equity, a study by the Advisory Board found.