Age Equity in Employment
The baby boomers are a history-making generation, on the verge of prompting historic changes in the workplace as they already have in so many other aspects of American life.
As the boomers approach what has been con- sidered the traditional retirement age, they say that they want to work longer and to have greater flexibility and authority in shaping their own work schedules and balancing their work and personal lives. This offers employers, who face a potential worker shortage in coming decades, an opportunity to create workplaces that, instead of penalizing older workers for their age and experience, both recognize and reward them.
Employers who invest the time, energy and creativity to motivate experienced workers to stay in the job market will find that they have made a win-win-win decision—for the employer, the worker, and the American econ- omy as it competes in the global marketplace.
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Evolving Age Discrimination Issues Along with demographic, workplace and technological conditions, age discrimination law continues to evolve. The following summaries illustrate some of the age discrimi-
nation issues that have been raised in the courts in recent years.
Retiree Health Benefits In a 2000 case, Erie County Retirees Association v. Erie County, Pennsylvania, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled that the county violated the ADEA by offering better health benefits for retirees under age 65 than for Medicare-eligible retirees. (The EEOC itself sought such a ruling to implement Congress’ intent in enacting the ADEA). In 2004, the EEOC reversed course 180 degrees and announced its intent to issue a regulation that would reverse the Erie decision. The regulation would allow employers to abandon retirees’ health coverage altogether when the retirees become eligible for Medicare at age 65, and bar retirees who lose coverage from challeng- ing their former employer’s actions—even if an employer provides under-65 retirees health benefits exceeding the level of coverage Medicare provides for those 65 and over.
AARP believes that this policy is illegal under the ADEA, and successfully challenged