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New legislation could strengthen rights for older workers

Workers in California may be familiar with the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The legislation aims to protect workers over 40 from being adversely impacted at work because of their age. However, a recent AARP study found that ageism in the workplace is still a significant problem. The report states that most employers don't emphasize avoiding discrimination based on age because laws protecting older workers are relatively weak.

There are many ways that companies may subtly discriminate against older workers. For instance, they may require that those who are applying for open positions have experience using digital platforms. They might also have mandatory retirement ages or have other policies that favor younger workers over older individuals. Proposed legislation called the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act (POWADA) could make the ADEA stronger. Specifically, it would allow workers pursuing age discrimination cases to use any evidence that they want to bolster their claims.

POWADA would also eliminate the burden of showing that age was the sole reason an individual was subject to unlawful activity by an employer. To avoid unfair actions, companies are encouraged to train managers and others who may be involved in hiring or other employment decisions. Keeping detailed records may also prevent an organization from engaging in practices that may be considered discriminatory.

Individuals who believe that they have been subject to age discrimination at work may want to take legal action against their employers. If the case has merit, an employee could file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. After an investigation, that person may file a lawsuit or take other steps to resolve the matter. An attorney could represent a worker regardless of how the matter is settled.

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