Ageism in U.S. workplace: a persistent problem unlikely to go away

Mon Oct 19, 2015 1:23pm EDT
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By Patricia Reaney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - When Leslye Evans-Lane left her teaching job in New Mexico at the age of 58 to move to Oregon with her husband, she never imagined that it would be difficult to find work.

But it took two years and more than 100 applications before she landed a part-time academic job. Six months later, when the job became full-time, she was replaced by someone younger.

"I applied for the full-time position and didn't even get an interview," said Evans-Lane, who is convinced that despite her years of experience age was an obstacle in getting hired and in losing her job.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission received 20,588 charges of age discrimination in 2014, a rise from 17,837 a decade earlier. Although the number dropped from a peak of 24,582 in 2008, legal and employment experts said it is a common phenomenon that will increase with millennials eager to enter the workforce and baby boomers reluctant to leave it.

"It is going to get worse because the older generation doesn't have the money to retire and then live 20 more years," said Brian Schaffer, a New York employment lawyer. "Companies are trying to cut costs and one of the ways to do try it is to eliminate older workers and hire much younger people."


Michael Campion, a professor of management at Purdue University in Indiana, said the sheer number of baby boomers is an issue.   Continued...

A man and woman enter a job fair at the Phoenix Workforce Connection in Phoenix, Arizona August 30, 2011. REUTERS/Joshua Lott