Law enforcement officers are important members of communities throughout Minnesota. They offer assistance, guidance and security to individuals who are in situations of peril, as well as protecting individuals from the threats of others. While some law enforcement officers are in the field with other human partners, others work closely with dogs who perform specific duties.
Around 10,000 baby boomers reach retirement age daily across the country, so it makes sense that they account for a growing percentage of the workforce. Minnesotans aged 65 and older in the workforce increased about 63 percent from 2003, holding 4.4 percent of jobs that are covered by unemployment insurance in 2017. In the same period, the number of average hours they worked per week also went up, as did their average hourly wage.
Age discrimination is a prohibited employment action under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Employers in a variety of industries are not allowed to make adverse employment and hiring decisions about individuals based upon their ages. In Minnesota and other jurisdictions, cities and other local governments often fall under these rules, though prior to a recent United States Supreme Court decision the number of employees a municipality or group employed may have exempt it from the ADEA.
There is a misconception that younger workers are more likely to adapt to newer technology, work harder and be less susceptible to injuries. When employers give in to such beliefs, they discredit the valuable experience and knowledge an older worker can bring to the job. In addition to this, they may be guilty of age discrimination, an action prohibited by federal law.
In the years following World War II, American families grew at a massive rate due to what social scientists now refer to as the "baby boom." Baby Boomers are part of an active but aging population that has seen its financial health take hits in the stock market and as safety net programs from the government reduce in scope and size. As a result, more Minnesota Baby Boomers may be working into their sixties and even seventies as they seek to secure the money they need to retire.
Men and women who wish to work and use their valuable knowledge and skills to earn a living should be allowed to do so at any age. In Minnesota and throughout the rest of the nation, workers are protected from age discrimination by the tenants of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). Under the ADEA, certain employers are prohibited from discriminating against the workers they currently employ, but are also barred from using discriminatory practices in other employment actions.
Like disability discrimination, age discrimination can sometimes go unnoticed by the casual observer of employment law developments. In the news right now, race and gender discrimination, along with sexual harassment in the workplace, are getting much more attention. However, it is important to realize that there is a variety of other types of discrimination that can occur in workplaces throughout the country and in Minnesota, including age discrimination.
Most people in Minnesota are familiar with lawsuits that are based on allegations of race or gender discrimination in the workplace, but some are less familiar with the fact that discrimination based on a person's age can be illegal as well. So, what is age discrimination and how does it violate the law?
With age comes wisdom, or at least that is the old saying. While we all value the insight of older, wiser people in our personal lives, employers in Minnesota may not feel the same way about older workers at their business or organization. In fact, some employers may view older workers as a liability.
Employees in Minnesota have every right to fight back against the premise that victims of harassment and discrimination "invite" the conduct in question. A workplace should be free from discrimination and harassment no matter what. However, are there ways to get ahead of these potential issues? For instance, can employees be proactive to make sure that they are not the victim of age discrimination in the workplace?