Age Discrimination Caseload is Dropping – What Are the Causes?

February 17, 2015 Discrimination

Report from TIME Magazine yesterday that the number of age discrimination complaints filed with the EEOC has dropped to pre-recession levels.  The author gives his own guesses as to why the drop – which started a few years ago – is occurring.

His guess is the economy, and I agree to an extent.  One good indicator of the strength of the U.S. workforce is to see how many claims are being filed; less claims mean more satisfied workers, or at least workers who can find other jobs and therefore don’t care quite as much about their last one.  However, I would argue that the chilling effect of changing laws in this area are also playing a part.  Employees discriminated against based on age face a more difficult burden of proof – rather than proving discrimination to be a contributing factor in management’s actions, those proving age discrimination must show that age was the single cause for management’s actions.  Even when proven, age discrimination victims have less damages available to them than others – for example, winners of age discrimination claims are normally not entitled to their attorney fees.  These recent changes in the law also coincide with the lower number of claims filed.

While I certainly don’t discount the economy as a contributing factor for the drop in cases filed, I personally see a number of valid age discrimination claims ignored when the client finds out how much more difficult things will be for them compared to others suffering from discrimination.  It is shameful that we have less protections for older employees than anyone else, and I would love to see a stronger, more public push for awareness on this topic.