Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), Ranking Member of the Special Committee on Aging, with Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Susan Collins (R-ME) re-introduced the bipartisan Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act (POWADA). Enacting POWADA (S. 485) would restore critical Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) protections and make it easier for employees to prove when they are a victim of age discrimination in the workplace.
In 2009, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Gross v. FBL Financial Services weakened the ADEA by imposing a significantly higher burden of proof on workers alleging age discrimination than is required of workers alleging other forms of workplace discrimination. As a result, workers that allege age discrimination must meet an undue legal burden not faced by workers alleging discrimination based on race, sex, national origin or religion.
“As a lawyer I worked on age discrimination cases, and I relied heavily on the ADEA to help workers fight back,” said Senator Casey. “More Americans are continuing to work until later in life and we must recognize and address the challenges they face. We must make clear to employers that no amount of age discrimination is acceptable, and we must strengthen antidiscrimination protections that are being eroded.”
“Older Americans contribute greatly to our society and economy. They deserve the same protections as every other American,” said Senator Grassley. “The Supreme Court case involving Iowan Jack Gross affected employment discrimination litigation across the country. It’s long past time we clarify the intent of Congress to make sure people like Jack Gross don’t face discrimination due to age.”
“No American should face discrimination in the workplace, whether based on age, sex, race, religion, national origin, disability, or otherwise. And our laws must not tolerate any amount of discrimination,” said Senator Leahy. “No matter whether it is a determinative or contributing factor in an employment decision, discrimination is wrong and should be treated as such. I am proud to once again cosponsor legislation that reinforces these fundamental rights for our nation’s seniors.”
“Older employees bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the workplace. Individuals who are willing and able to remain in the workforce longer can also improve their retirement security for their golden years. We should do all we can to ensure that these employees are not faced with age-related bias while doing their jobs,” said Senator Collins. “As the Chairman of the Senate Aging Committee, I have worked to develop policies that end workplace discrimination and ensure that seniors are able to participate fully in the workplace.”
“We commend these lawmakers for sponsoring this crucial legislation,” said Nancy LeaMond, AARP Executive Vice President and Chief Advocacy & Engagement Officer. “Too many older workers have been victims of unfair age discrimination and are denied a fair shake in our justice system. The time for Congress to act is now.”
Congressman Bobby Scott (D-VA-03), Chairman of the Committee on Education and Labor, will introduce a companion bill (H.R. 1230) in the U.S. House of Representatives.