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Workers Around the Globe Face Age Discrimination

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​A recent study in the United Kingdom (U.K.) indicates that age discrimination against job applicants in the U.K. is just as prevalent as in the United States. In addition, reports from around the world suggest that older workers around the globe struggle to find jobs.  We've rounded up articles from SHRM Online and other trusted news sources on age discrimination.

Older U.K. Job Applicants Are Rarely Interviewed

In the U.K., job applicants routinely include photos of themselves, along with personal details, when applying for positions. For one 2019 study, researchers applied to 811 jobs in England and found that employers were three times less likely to interview 55-year-old job candidates than younger applicants with less experience. Companies interviewed young white men 2.6 times more often than 50-year-old black men and three times more frequently than 50-year-old black women.


[SHRM members-only toolkit: Introduction to the Global Human Resources Discipline]

Separate Study Finds that Ageism Is Common Among U.S. Employers

U.S. employers often discriminate based on age, according to AARP. In a 2018 study, 61 percent of respondents over 45 years old said they'd witnessed or experienced age discrimination at work. Some job ads put a cap on the number of years of experience a candidate should have, or asked applicants to select from a dropdown menu that excluded birth years for older people. Age discrimination "is an open secret, and everyone knows it happens all the time, but few people stand up and say it's wrong," said Cathy Ventrell-Monsees, an attorney with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.


Supreme Court Will Examine Extent of Age Discrimination Law's Protections

Lower courts have split over whether the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) protects job applicants from age discrimination—a question that the U.S. Supreme Court will address in its upcoming term, which starts in October. The 7th Circuit, for example, has ruled that the ADEA permits only employees, not external job candidates, to bring claims that job requirements, such as caps on experience, have an unlawfully disproportionate impact on older workers. So, employees applying for jobs within their own companies could challenge caps on experience for positions, but not external job candidates. Nevertheless, a California district court has ruled that applicants may bring under the ADEA these so-called disparate impact claims.

(SHRM Online)

U.S. Workers Have Difficult Time Proving Age Discrimination

Laid-off workers and employees denied promotions have a tough time showing age discrimination because of a 2009 Supreme Court ruling. The decision imposed a much higher burden of proof on workers who allege age discrimination than on those who allege discrimination based on race, religion or gender. But even before the decision, as well as after it, age discrimination was common. A study found that from 1992 to 2016, 56 percent of older workers were either laid off at least once, or left jobs under such financially damaging circumstances that it's likely they were pushed out rather than left voluntarily.

(SHRM Online)

Age Discrimination Is Common in Indian Job Market

Job seekers in India reportedly often encounter age discrimination. Competition for jobs is intense, and more than half the population is 25 years old or younger. Some HR professionals ask applicants their age, which Indian statutes don't prohibit. "Common law"—law that courts develop rather than statutes enacted by the legislature—theoretically might prohibit age discrimination in India, but age discrimination claims are rare.

(Entrepreneur India) (The Interpreter) (Forbes India) (AgeDiscrimination.Info)

Wanted in China: Young Tech Applicants

China doesn't have laws prohibiting discrimination based on age, and age discrimination reportedly starts younger than in the United States. Many job postings in China seek applicants younger than 35 years old. (The ADEA's protections do not apply until 40 years old.) One Beijing tech startup stated in a recent job ad that it would relax education requirements, but not age. That said, China's changing demographics ultimately may result in less age discrimination. Forty-seven percent of China's population is older than 40 and that number will rise to 55 percent by 2030.

(Bloomberg Businessweek)


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