House passes bill to protect older workers from age discrimination
The House voted 247-178 on Wednesday to pass the Protecting Older Workers from Discrimination Act of 2021, which restores critical protections in the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and makes it easier for employees to prove when they are a victim of age discrimination in the workplace.
The bill is a long-delayed response to a 2009 Supreme Court decision that weakened protections against age discrimination.
The ruling in Gross v. FBL Financial Services Inc. mandated that plaintiffs of age discrimination demonstrate age was the sole motivating factor for the employer’s action.
Not surprisingly, in the wake of the decision, reports of age discrimination have increased in recent years. According to a 2018 poll conducted by the American Association of Retired Persons, three in five workers over the age of 45 had seen or experienced age discrimination in the workplace.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has also seen an increase in complaints of age discrimination. In 2000, there were roughly 16,000 complaints of age discrimination, while in 2017, age discrimination complaints exceeded 20,000.
“I will speak out against discrimination in all its forms,” Second District Congresswoman Elaine Luria said. “Today, workers that allege age discrimination must meet an undue legal burden not faced by workers alleging discrimination based on race, sex, national origin or religion. This bipartisan bill will make finding and keeping a job easier for seniors.”
“All Americans should be equally protected under the law. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court’s 2009 ruling undermined protections against age discrimination,” Fourth District Congressman Donald McEachin said. “At a time when Americans are working more and longer than they ever have, we must ensure older workers are protected and provide them with a form of recourse in instances of discrimination. The Protecting Older Works Against Discrimination Act will reduce the burden of proof for age discrimination cases and align it with similar standards for other discrimination claims.”
All four of Virginia’s Republican House members – Ben Cline, Bob Good, Morgan Griffith and Rob Wittman – voted against the bill.
Read more on H.R. 2062, Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act here.
Story by Chris Graham