A bipartisan bill offered by several leading senators would strengthen protections under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which applies in both the federal government and private sector.
The bill is in part to court precedent imposing a higher burden of proof on workers alleging age discrimination than is required of workers alleging other forms of workplace discrimination such as race, sex, national origin or religion. That principle holds that in an age bias complaint the worker must show that discrimination was the deciding factor in an allegedly discriminatory workplace decision, in contrast to other forms of bias in which the worker must show only that discrimination was a part of the decision.
The bill (S-880) further would reaffirm that workers may use any type of admissible evidence to prove their claims.
Sponsors cited a national survey in which more than three-fifths of workers ages 45 and above reported seeing or experiencing age discrimination in the workplace. The survey also found that three quarters of these workers cited age discrimination as a reason for their lack of confidence in being able to find a new job.
Within the federal government, age discrimination was reported to be the third most-common form of bias in a 2016 survey, behind race and sex discrimination. Eighteen percent said they experienced or saw such practices within their workplace within the prior two years, up 6 percentage points over the prior similar survey in 2010.