Older workers: Do you know your rights at the workplace?

Commentators across a broad spectrum of areas and interests, including employment law, often make reference these days to America’s “aging workforce.”

Does anything concrete or especially noteworthy necessarily flow from that? Is there any particular relevance attached to the phrase?

Well, there is one obvious takeaway, of course: Whereas people in bygone decades often retired at age 60 or shortly thereafter, many millions of workers across the country, including in California, work well into their 60s, and even far beyond, these days.

They do so for multiple reasons. Many need the money, of course, as well as the insurance benefits that work often provides. Others feel that staying occupied at the workplace keeps them strong and vital, and that they should be working so long as they are contributing in valuable ways to their employer.

Other takeaways are more subtle and implied, and even misplaced. Some people link elder workers with diminished skills and vigor, which empirical evidence has shown to be pure fallacy in most instances. In fact, many studies have shown ample and multiple benefits that accrue to employers that hire, value and retain an experienced workforce.

Still, though, there will always be an inherent belief in some quarters that older workers need to be replaced by younger job candidates for myriad reasons. When that outcome ensues and is based upon nondiscriminatory factors, there is often little to trigger a legal response.

Workplace reality, though, often features discrimination in both subtle and blatant ways, with the brunt force of discriminatory practices and policies often being aimed at older workers.

Fortunately, many federal and state laws exist that safeguard the rights of older employees across the United States. We’ll take a closer look at their protective features in our next blog post.

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