There is a change happening in workforce demographics and it may require a change in how businesses work with their older workers. The summer of 2018 marked the 50 year anniversary of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and a new report from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), says that employers can be at a higher risk of age-related discrimination litigation due to a demographic shift in the workplace.
Businesses are noticing that older workers, people who are 65 and older, are not only expected to work longer, but is a segment of the workforce that is growing the fastest. With this influx of older workers not only coming into but staying in the workforce longer, the EEOC is warning against employment discrimination based on age.
The report from the EEOC also suggests that they expect litigation to increase over ADEA in the coming years. Age discrimination is a topic that is very relevant for older workers. In 2017, over 60 percent of workers 45 and older responded to a poll saying they had either seen or experienced age discrimination in the workplace.
Due to an increased number of older workers that may be present at your business, it is a good time to ensure your practices do not show a perception of discrimination based on age. One way to stay ahead of changing demographics is providing training and guidance on recruiting, hiring and employee reviews. Consider staying mindful about:
- Be vigilant that your recruiting is not focused on just on younger candidates. The EEOC report shows that many times the practice of many employers were to target younger workers. This includes recruiting though social media where only younger workers were targeted.
- Speak directly to your employees about the importance of stereotypes or making assumptions about a workers age or their ability to do their job based on age.
- Consider issuing new policies and reviewing existing strategies on employee retention and the rights of older workers.
- If you do not already have them in place, consider developing programs that promote age diversity.
The workforce is getting older and working longer. Businesses should be prepared for any challenges they may encounter that revolve around age discrimination. By starting early and enforcing programs and policies, businesses can show they have practices in place to combat this type of discrimination.