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AARP Endorses Legislation to Protect Older Workers

En español | On Wednesday, we joined U.S. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Capitol Hill in support of bipartisan legislation to protect the legal rights of older adults facing age discrimination at work. 

The Protecting Older Americans Act of 2023 would prohibit forced arbitration for age discrimination claims in the workplace. Nearly two out of three workers 40 and older say they have seen or experienced age discrimination on the job, according to AARP research, and rates are even higher for women and people of color

“Age discrimination is illegal, and people should have the ability to get redress when they are discriminated against,” AARP Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Bill Sweeney said during a news conference to highlight the legislation. 

AARP opposes mandatory and binding arbitration as a condition of employment, since it forces employees to settle disputes behind closed doors, with fewer protections and often in forums picked by the employer, we wrote in a letter endorsing the bill.  

“In such cases, employees do not have the procedural protections and enforcement mechanisms available through the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and other federal civil rights laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act,” AARP Chief Advocacy and Engagement Officer Nancy LeaMond said in a statement. 

The bill is modeled after bipartisan legislation enacted last year that bans forced arbitration for victims of workplace sexual assault and harassment.  

Under the legislation, workers who experienced age discrimination would be allowed to file their case in court if they chose, even if they previously signed a “forced arbitration clause,” which many workers aren’t even aware they have signed, Gillibrand said. Graham added that binding arbitration provides an “uneven playing field” for settling discrimination complaints.

The endorsement is the latest in our push for laws and policies to combat ageism in the workplace. Read our letter and learn more about how AARP is fighting age discrimination

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