A study done for the Brookings Institution calls for strengthening age discrimination laws in light of the trend toward longer working careers, an issue it said is especially important for older workers who work—or want to—in a “bridge” type job between retiring from their main occupation and fully retiring.
“Partial retirement will surely become even more common if people work until older ages, since many older workers move from their career jobs to jobs that are less physically demanding,” it says, and as people extend their careers to bolster their retirement finances.
While laws such as the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act—which applies to the federal workforce along with many private sector companies–and state laws are place, it says, they are the most effective in protecting against age-based discrimination in firing, while “the most rigorous evidence we have establishing age discrimination concerns discrimination in hiring.”
It adds that largely because such laws are in place, blatant age discrimination is “rare” and that it most often is seen through less direct signs such as “negative stereotypes regarding older workers” and data showing that older job-seekers go longer on average before being hired. Studies also have found evidence through submitting fictitious applications in response to job vacancy ads that are identical except for the age, in which the supposedly older applicants were less likely to be contacted for a personal interview.
It recommends steps including revising the standards for proof of discrimination to overcome some recent rulings that have weakened protections by requiring higher standards, and increasing the amounts available as awards when discrimination is proven to the higher levels provided under many state laws.