workers of all ages are increasingly demand- ing—more flexibility and autonomy, work schedules that allow for part-time or other flex- ible schedules and a better work-life balance, as well as access to training, benefits and the respect of their colleagues and employers. Just as boomer women led the way two or three decades ago in pushing for more accommoda- tion for working mothers, older boomers are pressing for conditions and benefits that can be beneficial to all workers.
New Legal Issues are Emerging Social and economic trends and technology have brought workplace changes that have repercussions in age discrimination law. The soaring cost of health insurance, for example, has led employers to make cuts in coverage for their employees and has raised new questions about how to interpret the relationship of the ADEA to employers’ policies on health care benefits.
The U.S. Department of Labor has predicted that
starting around 2010, the growth in the labor force will slow to .4 percent a year, compared to 1.6 percent per year between 1950 and 2000.
In light of these demographic, workplace, and legal trends, the most savvy employers are approaching the future not only by complying with the letter of age discrimination law but also by instituting policies and procedures designed to meet the needs of this newly defined workforce generating the most value for their enterprise from these workers’ experi- ence and skills.
Capturing the business benefits of imple- menting new policies and practices for a changing workforce also requires that employ- ers monitor the results of instituting these efforts in terms of their impact on older work- ers. Under the ADEA, even age-neutral policies and practices may violate federal law if they have a significant disproportionate impact on older workers that is not justified by reason- able business objectives of and conduct by the employer. Generally, this will require an employer to regularly collect and assess data on workplace conditions as they affect older and younger workers.