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Is age discrimination keeping older workers out of jobs?


The national economy is recovering but many people here in New York and across the country are struggling to keep up with their financial obligations. One reason that many people have fallen on tough times is the reduction of jobs that drove up the unemployment rate and sent thousands of Americans to apply for unemployment benefits over the last decade.

One group of workers that was hit hard by the recession is older Americans. While people of all age demographics were laid off from their employment, mature individuals are more likely to have dependents, mortgages and other financial obligations that demand that they make enough money to stay in the black.

A 57-year-old man shared his story of going from making more than $100,000 a year to losing his job and living with his family in his elderly mother's house. As a result of losing his job, the man has been without health insurance and suffered a heart attack which has resulted in exorbitant medical bills.

His story is not unique, and now as the economy recovers older Americans are facing challenges when seeking out new employment. While they cannot definitively say that age discrimination is the sole reason for not being hired, since the Supreme Court's decision to make bringing age discrimination claims more challenging older workers have faced an uphill battle in proving their discrimination claims in court.

Though the federal Congress has attempted to bring into a law that would make bringing age discrimination claims easier, it has failed to garner sufficient support. Coping with recovery during an improving economy could lead to older Americans finding work, but individuals who have experienced possible age discrimination issues when applying for jobs may have legal rights against those who discriminated against them.

Source: New York Times, "Set Back by Recession, and Shut Out of Rebound," Michael Winerip, Aug. 26, 2013

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