New federal regulations bring better job protection for over-55 workers
Jun 29, 2012, 8:32 a.m.
Are you holding off from seeking post-retirement work because you're worried about the lack of job protection for older workers? You're not alone. Thankfully, the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) is doing something about it, which could result in lowered job risks for people over 55.
Formed in 1965, the EEOC is a federal law enforcement agency that investigates and prosecutes cases of discrimination involving a worker's race, color, nationality, religion, sex, disability, and age. The EEOC also helps to empower employees to report discrimination without fear of retribution. As a result of regulations recently put in place, there are expected to be a dramatically decreased number of older Americans losing their jobs because of their age.
It accomplishes this by directly addressing unintentional discrimination that can pop as a result of certain company hiring policies. For example, there are lots of companies out there who, as a rule, don't hire people who have been unemployed for longer than a year. Their reason for doing so is to weed out individuals that might be seen as unmotivated to perform and given to quitting after the company's invested time and money into training them. The trouble is, this practice could automatically exclude many older workers who have decided to return to the workforce after a few years of retirement.
The new federal regulations put into place by the EEOC are also serving to put companies on notice that if they're going to deny older workers jobs, their decision making has to show some evidence of other "reasonable" contributing factors -- like a lack of experience needed to perform the job. The regulation also clearly defines what is "reasonable" and what is not.
Working to eliminate job risks for people over 55, the regulation doesn't just cover the hiring decisions of employers but also their firing and layoff decisions. Under the new rules, companies that are forced to make difficult decisions about who to lay off and who to keep on board will be compelled to show that an individual's age had nothing to do with the decision. If age is found to have been the primary contributing factor, they put themselves in jeopardy of fines and lawsuits.
With this encouraging news, older workers can now feel confident that if they do return to the workforce, their age won't be held against them.
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