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Economic

Support Grows For Age Discrimination Legislation

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Christian Science Monitor
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Four out of five older Kentuckians support bipartisan legislation to combat age discrimination in the workplace. A new AARP poll of voters 50 plus finds 82 percent in favor of Congress passing the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act.

Cristina Martin Firvida, AARP's director of financial security and consumer affairs, says support cuts across all ideologies.

"Irrespective of how folks identify either philosophically or on primary day, this is an issue that everyone is extremely supportive of addressing,” says Firvida. “No one seems to think that it's okay to be for age discrimination."

The legislation is designed to overturn a divided (5-4) Supreme Court decision (Gross v. FBL Financial Services) that made it much more difficult for older workers to prove claims of illegal bias because of their age.

Firvida says the high court's ruling sends the wrong message to employers – that discriminating against older workers is not as serious, not as egregious and it's therefore more tolerable than other forms of discrimination.

"We can’t have a workplace that says discrimination against one group of workers, older workers, is a little bit okay,” Firvida stresses. “It's never okay, it should never be okay."

The age discrimination legislation is gaining traction at a time when research shows that the average length of unemployment between jobs for older workers is nearly a year.

Firvida says action by Congress would remove one of the barriers.

"And you can see in just the survey work we have done in Kentucky, folks want to, they want to continue working if they can and they feel they need to,” Firvida adds.

The survey of older Kentuckians found that 28 percent of them have either experienced age discrimination themselves or know someone who has.

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