Victoria A. Lipnic, acting chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), issued a report today on the “State of Older Workers and Age Discrimination 50 Years After the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).” The ADEA was signed into law in December 1967 and took effect 50 years ago this month, in June 1968. The ADEA was an important part of 1960s civil rights legislation that was intended to ensure equal opportunity for older workers by preventing ageism.

Victoria Lipnic

The report finds that age discrimination remains too common and too accepted as outdated assumptions about older workers and ability persist, even though today’s experienced workers are more diverse, better educated and working longer than previous generations.

“As we’ve studied the current state of age discrimination this past year in commemorating the ADEA, we’ve seen many similarities between age discrimination and harassment,” explained Acting EEOC Chair Victoria A. Lipnic. “Like harassment, everyone knows it happens every day to workers in all kinds of jobs, but few speak up. It’s an open secret.”

The report recognizes the similarities between age discrimination and other discrimination. Only about 3 percent of those who have experienced age discrimination complained to their employer or a government agency, according to recent research. Studies find that more than three-fourths of older workers surveyed report their age is an obstacle in getting a job. Even with a booming economy and low unemployment, older workers still report they have difficulties getting hired.

Lipnic’s report provides a wealth of information and resources. It includes recommendations from experts on strategies to prevent age discrimination, such as including age in diversity and inclusion programs and having age-diverse hiring panels. Research shows that age diversity can improve organi­za­tional performance and lower employee turnover. Studies also find that mixed-age work teams result in higher productivity for both older and younger workers.

“I hope the report also serves to put to rest outdated assumptions about experienced workers,” Acting Chair Lipnic commented. “As I’ve said many times, they have talent that our economy cannot afford to waste.”