Has Your Senator Stepped Up to Fight Age Discrimination?

Bipartisanship hasn’t gone the way of the Dodo bird. Fighting age discrimination has gained support from both parties.

Know anyone who has faced age bias at work when it comes to hiring or layoff decisions-or is it a worry for you? If so, you should care about a certain senate bill. And the good news is that bipartisanship hasn’t completely gone the way of the Dodo bird. 

The issue uniting some big names from both sides of the aisle involves protecting older workers against age discrimination. AARP is hoping that more senators will sign on.

The “Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act” (POWADA) was introduced in March by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT). Others who have signed on include Sen. Scott Brown (MA), Sen. Patty Murray (WA), Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (RI), Sen. Al Franken (MN), Sen. Herb Kohl (WI), Sen. Robert Casey, Jr. (PA), Sen. Barbara Mikulski (MD), Sen. Jon Tester (MT), and Sen. Jeff Merkley (OR).

The support for this bill should be welcome news to millions of seasoned workers who are worried-and rightly so-about being a pink slip away from having their financial and emotional lives upended. But to ensure it moves forward, more people need to take action.

Passing the legislation would help ensure that employees have a more level playing field when fighting age discrimination in court. Senate Bill 2189 would overturn the Supreme Court’s 5 to 4 decision in Gross v. FBL Financial Services, which became a major obstacle for older workers needing to prove bias based on their age.

A recent AARP survey shows that older Americans from both parties overwhelmingly support legislation to combat age discrimination in the workplace, with 78 percent of those polled favoring passage of S.2189.

Older workers have valid reasons to be worried about finding a new job in this tough economy given the latest unemployment figures. “Age discrimination continues to be a barrier,” explains AARP’s Debbie Chalfie, a senior legislative representative and age discrimination expert. “It is critical that those who need or want to work longer are able to do so.”

Want to see the age discrimination protection bill move forward in the Senate? See the bill tracker and find out where your senator stands, then contact your senators online or call 1-800-221-2764, and ask them to support S. 2189.

And if they’ve already signed on to support it, be sure to thank them. You never know-it could make a difference for you.

Workers: Learn more about age discrimination, from legal definitions to what to do if you think you’ve been a victim. Find job-hunting advice and tools at www.aarp.org/work/job-hunting/ and explore your real possibilities with Life Reimagined for Work.

Employers: See AARP’s Employer Resource Center for information and tools to help you make the most of your multigenerational workforce. To optimize your talent management planning and help ensure that your workplace is free from age bias, check out the Workforce Assessment Tool from AARP and SHRM.

Graphic: The famous (and unfortunately extinct) “Edwards Dodo’ painted by Roleant Savery in 1626, via Wikipedia.