Legislation to Combat Age Discrimination Passes House

Smith a Cosponsor of the Bill to Protect Older Workers

January 15, 2020

Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04), a cosponsor of the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act (HR 1230), welcomed today’s passage of key legislation pushing reform to provide equal opportunity for older workers in America and legally recognize age discrimination in the workplace.

     “With close to 35 percent of the U.S. population over the age of 50, we must act now to stop discrimination and ensure fairness and equal opportunity in the workplace,” said, Rep. Smith.

     Smith cited the Association of American Retired Persons (AARP) reports that show 3 in 5 workers see or experience age discrimination on the job, and more than half of older workers are forced out of a job before they intend to retire.

     “Discrimination against older workers is real and prevalent despite the fact that more Americans are working harder, contributing more, healthier, and staying longer in the workplace,” said Rep. Smith.

     Smith said that under current law, workers are given close to “impossible hurdles” to overcome in order to demonstrate age discrimination. An individual must show that age discrimination was the decisive and determinative cause for the employer’s adverse action, rather than just a motivating factor in the employer’s adverse action. This burden of proof was significantly raised in age discrimination cases as a result of a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2009, Gross v. FBL Financial Services Inc.

     “As a cosponsor of this legislation, I am pleased that HR1230 would restore the burden of proof for age discrimination cases in order to be on par with other forms of workplace discrimination,” he said.

     Smith also touted an amendment he cosponsored to address the added disadvantage older women face.

     “I am also a cosponsor of an amendment which would require Department of Labor and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to conduct a comprehensive study on the increased prevalence of age discrimination against older women in the workplace and make recommendations for best practices on combatting age discrimination for women.”

     I am committed to ensuring fairness is returned to older workers, and we must fight to ensure age is not a barrier to those with experience, skill, and desire to continue to contribute to our economy,” said Rep. Smith.

     Smith called on the Senate to swiftly act on and pass HR1230, where it awaits due consideration.