Unfortunately, Americans still seem undecided about the unique value older workers can contribute to the workplace. While some stereotypes of older workers may be justified, many people are living longer and are able to keep making highly valuable contributions to the workforce and their professions long beyond current, mandatory retirement ages. Yet the tendency to assume that being older isn’t better has pervaded the American workplace for many decades.
It was in recognition of this deeply ingrained bias that Congress passed The Age Discrimination in Employment Act back in 1967. Through a number of amendments, that Act has been strengthened over the years. As the average age of those in the workforce continues to climb, we will need to carefully protect those who are arguably the best assets any company may ever have.
Avoid and Battle Age Discrimination
Long before the next round of layoffs, all workers, especially those over the age of 40, must start planning their financial world around the possibility of sudden unemployment. Seriously consider meeting with an employment law attorney. Ask this specialist what steps you should take to try and secure your job and employee benefits.
At work, ask your supervisor if there are any new responsibilities you can take on. This move can help you become an even more essential employee. Meet with a financial planner who can review your 401K plan, employee benefits and personal estate planning documents. Make sure you really do have enough readily available funds to live on for six months (or longer) should you lose your current job and need ample time to find a new one.
Keep careful records of all of your regular employee evaluation reports and other documents that may help prove your many contributions to your employer. If treated unfairly, ask your attorney if you should consider filing an EEOC charge. If you know of a number of co-workers who’ve been treated unjustly, consider filing a charge with the EEOC as a group.
Preparing for Age Discrimination
Since workers can never predict at what age their employers might start viewing them as obsolete, spend time with your entire family trying to find new ways to trim the family budget. Consider starting a part-time business from your home since no one can fire you for age reasons when you’re the boss and self-employed.
If the American economy continues to falter, give thought to downsizing into a smaller home and a less expensive car, taking fewer long vacations and adopting a more frugal approach to using cell phones and all other modern conveniences. Make sure you and your spouse have adequate life insurance policies and help your older children become more responsible about handling money.
Become a proactive volunteer with groups like the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), or another group that constantly seeks to improve the lives of older Americans through legislation and various other means.
Help for Employment Age Discrimination
Without a radical change in the way employers view their older workers, it’s critical for all employees to find new ways to become irreplaceable in their employers’ eyes. It’s also important to regularly meet, perhaps every three or four months, with a private attorney about employment issues, estate planning and investment matters. You’ll want to have every area of your life in top running condition should age discrimination rear its unpredictable and threatening head in your life.