We trust that your four-day workweek has flown by and you’re ready for another break. We certainly are.
Don’t let this eyesore of an acronym put you to sleep—according to the linked article at Forbes.com, this legislation has been introduced by various members of Congress every year for the past ten years, but has never passed. This congressional session one of the bill’s sponsors is Virginia’s own Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, who serves as the representative for a large portion of the metro Richmond area. And despite being inelegantly named, the consequences of its passage would be significant for many older Americans.
POWADA stands for Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act, and the intent of the law is to make age discrimination easier for American workers to prove when their jobs are terminated. Age discrimination has been illegal for employers to engage in since 1967, and until 1991 the standard for aggrieved former employees to prove it was consistent with the legal standard for proving discrimination based on race, sex, religion, or color under The Civil Rights Act. In 1991 Congress made it easier for Americans to prove discrimination under the Civil Rights Act, but did not do the same for age discrimination. If POWADA passes, it will put age discrimination back on equal legal footing with the other protected categories.
This Bloomberg News story notes that the labor participation rate for Americans of retirement age is at a 57-year high. It also reports that workers over the age of 65 earn over $20,000 more per year on average than workers under the age of 65. With such a large disparity in incomes, the incentive for employers can be to replace the older, higher-paid worker with the younger, less-compensated employee. Sadly, because the retirement savings of many workers over the age of 65 are very small, many of these potential retirees choose to keep working well past the age when they wanted to retire.
As Elder Law attorneys, we don’t advocate for older employees who are discriminated against on the basis of age (we can refer you to some great Employment Law attorneys for that); instead we assist with the fall-out. Often Americans who could retire and get Social Security desire to keep working to maintain a high income, but their employers let them go or their health or the health of their partners forces them to make tough decisions about working, care-taking, and how to pay the bills. In these stressful circumstances, we provide counsel and advice to make the best decisions possible. If we can ever assist you or your clients, please let us know.