Thursday, May 12, 2005

Aging of Baby Boomers Brings Focus to Age Discrimination

According to an article by Bill Leonard, Jonathan A. Segal, a partner with the Philadelphia-based law firm of Wolf, Block, Schorr and Solis-Cohen, told Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) that preventing age bias could become the top diversity challenge that employers must confront over the next five to 10 years. Speakng to SHRM employees as part of SHRM's recognition and celebration of older worker, Segal said that the changing demographic of the more than 75 million baby boomers in the United States has created what he called the “baby boom-erang” and that many employers are clearly guilty of what he called the “Dracula complex”--“They want newer and fresher blood, because they’re under the mistaken impression that it can bring vitality to an organization.”
Segal said it’s easy for employers to address some problems with age discrimination by making sure to avoid improper job interview questions about age and to use uniform interview questions for all employees. Uniform questions can protect employers from unconscious age bias and illustrate their commitment to equal employment opportunity, Segal said.

He said that employers need to be aware of their decision-making processes and remove unlawful considerations of age.

“In other words, there is no such thing as a ‘young person’s job,’ and discomfort with older employees is never a defense in an age-discrimination claim,” he said. “Management should ensure consistency of all hiring and promotions decisions regardless of age relative to providing opportunities, offering training, setting expectations and measuring the results. Everyone must be treated equally.”
Source: "Aging baby boomers bring age bias to the forefront" HR News Online (May 11, 2005)

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