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Time for a Twenty-First Century Understanding of Older Workers, Aging, and Discrimination

  • Cathy Ventrell-MonseesEmail author
Chapter

Abstract

Age discrimination in the workplace continues to be common and accepted 50 years after the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) took effect in 1968. One reason is that judges and employers are stuck in a 1960s view of older workers, aging, and discrimination. They see age discrimination as “different” from other types of discrimination and fail to condemn and prevent it as they would race or sex discrimination. Their outdated views about older workers and skeptical views about age discrimination perpetuate unfounded stereotypes. Three judge-made rules—stray comments, same actor, and same group—are used frequently and widely to dismiss age discrimination cases. However, these judge-made rules are contrary to social science research and an understanding of how bias operates. Educating employers and judges about contemporary research on older workers, aging, and discrimination could update their perspectives to better understand and value the abilities and experiences of workers of all ages. Rejecting ageist stereotyping as we reject sexist or racist stereotyping would be a meaningful step forward to achieving the promise of the ADEA that all should be judged based on ability not age.

Keywords

Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) Myths about age and job performance Myths about age and ability Title VII of the Civil Rights Act Courts’ views on age discrimination Contemporary perspectives on age and job discrimination 

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity CommissionWashingtonUSA

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