03.22.21

Leahy And Others Re-Introduce Bipartisan Bill To Protect Older Workers From Discrimination

WASHINGTON (MONDAY, March 22, 2021) – Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), with Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), Chairman of the Special Committee on Aging; Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA); and Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), Monday re-introduced the bipartisan, bicameral Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act (POWADA). Enacting POWADA would restore critical protections in the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and make it easier for employees to prove when they are a victim of age discrimination in the workplace. U.S. Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA-03), Chairman of the Committee on Education and Labor, introduced a companion bill in the House of Representatives.

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.

“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.  No matter whether it is a determinative or contributing factor in an employment decision, discrimination is wrong and should be treated that way,” said Senator Leahy. “I am proud to once again cosponsor legislation that reinforces these fundamental rights for our nation’s seniors.”

“As more Americans are remaining in the workforce longer, we must recognize and address the challenges that aging workers face. We must make it clear to employers that age discrimination is unacceptable, and we must strengthen antidiscrimination protections that are being eroded,” said Senator Casey. “POWADA would level the playing field for older workers and ensure they are able to fight back against age discrimination in the workplace.”

“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 Mr. Gross don’t face discrimination due to age.”

“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. “I encourage our colleagues to support this bipartisan legislation, which would help to end workplace discrimination for seniors throughout the country.”

“Everyone—regardless of their age—should be able to go to work every day knowing that they are protected from discrimination. Unfortunately, age discrimination in the workplace is depriving older workers of opportunities and exposing them to long-term unemployment and severe financial hardship,” said Chairman Bobby Scott (VA-03), Committee on Education and Labor. “More than a decade ago, the Supreme Court undermined protections for older workers by setting an unreasonable burden of proof for age discrimination claims. The Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act is a bipartisan bill that would finally restore the legal rights of older workers by ensuring that the burdens of proof in age discrimination claims are treated in the same manner as other discrimination claims.”

“The introduction of this bill is a crucial step to strengthening the law and restoring fairness for older workers who experience age discrimination,” said Nancy LeaMond, AARP Executive Vice President and Chief Advocacy & Engagement Officer. “It sends a clear message that discrimination in the workplace – against older workers or others – is never acceptable.”

Read the POWADA one pager here. 

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