Congress seeks to power up protections for older workers with POWADA.
Age discrimination in the workplace continues to be a concern for many Americans; and earlier this year, the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act (POWADA) was introduced in the U.S. Senate. This bill amends the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) to make it easier to fight back against age discrimination. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Susan Collins (R-ME), two of the bill’s sponsors, also wrote a letter to Facebook, Google, and LinkedIn to express serious concern over the use of advertising targeting tools on these platforms that allow employers to recruit potential employees in specific age ranges.
In their letter Senators Casey and Collins said that age discrimination “continues to occur, and changes in technology and the methods employers use to recruit, hire, and manage workers have introduced new avenues by which employers may engage in illegal conduct….As America’s workforce continues to age, it is imperative that protections for older workers are enforced and updated when necessary.” They also requested information about how often age-targeted advertising was used on these platforms.
When ADEA was enacted 50 years ago, it was an important step in protecting older workers from discrimination. However, a 2009 Supreme Court ruling weakened the law, determining that age discrimination claims must prove that discrimination was not just a motivating factor but the sole or overriding issue in an adverse employment decision. This put a higher burden on older workers alleging age discrimination than on those alleging discrimination based on race, sex, national origin, or religion. POWADA would restore the pre-2009 legal standards for age discrimination claims, ensuring that everyone has equal access to the courts and reinforcing the essential principle that no amount of age discrimination in the workplace is acceptable. This law would enable older workers to take legal action when age discrimination affects their professional opportunities and reaffirms that workers may use any type of admissible evidence to prove their claims.
“Since the Great Recession, too many Americans in their 50s and 60s have had difficulty receiving a fair shot in the workforce,” Sen. Casey said, adding, “This legislation makes sure that older Americans have the tools to fight back against any age discrimination. These are the Americans who have fought our wars and raised the nation’s children; and they should not face age discrimination in the job market.”