Minority Press

(PA) Casey Champions Legislation That Protects Employees From Age Discrimination

Casey Releases Report on America’s Aging Workforce

Pittsburgh Resident: Older Workers Need Support and Protections in the Workplace

Washington, DC - Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, held a hearing, “America’s Aging Workforce: Opportunities and Challenges.” During the hearing, Sen. Casey released a report that examines ways in which employers, workers, and policymakers can work together to ensure that older workers are able to thrive in the workplace.

The number of older workers is growing rapidly—in less than a decade, one in four workers in the U.S. will be age 55 or older. Pennsylvania already has more than 1.6 million workers in that same age group. Older employees face unique challenges such as lacking access to training for a more technologically advanced workplace, working with age-related disabilities and balancing caregiving responsibilities—all of which make them more vulnerable to age discrimination.

“As a young lawyer I worked on age discrimination cases and I relied on ADEA a great deal to help workers fight back,” said Senator Casey. “At a time when more Americans are continuing to work until later in life, we must recognize and address the unique challenges that older employees face and ensure that our laws fully support all who wish to continue working by safeguarding them from age discrimination or forced retirement.”

Earlier this year, Sen. Casey introduced the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act (POWADA)—a law that would fully restore the protections of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). In 2009, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Gross v. FBL Financial Services re-interpreted ADEA and weakened it. 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. This year marks the 50th anniversary of ADEA. Enacting POWADA would restore the pre-2009 legal standard making it easier to fight back against age discrimination.

Lisa Motta, a 54-year-old from Pittsburgh, Pa., testified before the committee at the invitation of Sen. Casey. Lisa is a former teacher who lost her sight as an adult. After being out of the workforce for 20 years, Lisa started a new career as a recruiting administrator at PNC. Lisa testified to the importance of having strong laws in place to protect older workers. “As America’s workforce grows older, more and more workers will face challenges like these and will need additional supports and accommodations. They will also need laws in place that ensure that when they walk into an interview they do not face any form of discrimination. When we make it easier for these workers to succeed, everyone benefits.”

Watch the hearing on America’s Aging Workforce.