The Employers with Ignorance and Bias Act

From an editorial in today's NYTimes re: Supreme Court ruling on the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (requires registration):

Workers over the age of 40, who are nearly half of the work force, deserve to be treated fairly. But they are not the only ones who are likely to benefit. Older people are often the most competent and conscientious workers, but employers may be too ignorant or biased to realize it. As the United States is thrust into an ever more competitive global economy, it cannot afford to let prejudice prevent it from having the best possible work force.

So it's the job of the Federal government to help companies that are "too ignorant or biased" to find their way? What ever happened to competition? This act imposes burdens on companies. Rather than act in their own best interest - picking the best-qualified employees - companies must alter their decisions to include protecting themselves from potential lawsuits (warranted or not). This benefits larger companies, which are more easily able to handle lawsuits (yet actually hurts their global competitiveness, by coercing them into to hiring older workers, at the expense of hiring the best workers.) Once again, the government over-simplifies what is a complicated and nuanced process, because it knows best.

The next time you curse some company you feel is too large to understand the needs of its customers, think of legislation such as the Age Discrimination in Employment Act which helps to make it that way.

And what of workers over 40? How would they survive in my world? Would they starve because of all of the ignorant, biased employers? OR, would some enterprising company (perhaps started by a senior person) see an opportunity to capitalize on a market failure, and be REWARDED for doing the right thing (senior worker staffing)? We're guaranteed that such a company would succeed, since we know that there are many ignorant and biased employers out there, not hiring well-qualified older workers. Why else would we need this legislation?

Share this

I think someone figured out

I think someone figured out that it isn’t a panacea.

Now if only that someone would figure out that government is even further from a panacea.

By the way, aren't most employers over 40? Who are these people who are bigoted against other members of their own generations?

What ever happened to

What ever happened to competition?

I think someone figured out that it isn't a panacea.

Then again, there's

Then again, there's something to be said for accumulated wisdom.

PJ O'Rourke said it best: Age and guile beat youth and a bad haircut.

Pfft. It happens at the

Pfft. It happens at the other end of the scale too. Companies love people in their mid-thirties with kids. They have responsibilities and can't be bothered to look for work anywhere else. Try being 12 years younger than all of your colleagues and expecting management to give a damn, no matter how the devs thought you were solid.

Dadahead, Is it your


Is it your position that lawsuits are going to create a better result than competition in this case? It is not a matter of competition vs a perfect world. It is a matter of competition vs lawsuits. Which do you think will achieve the more desirable result?

Jim, You're right- I never

You're right- I never thought of that as yet another unintended consequence of employer-provided health insurance. Another reason to get rid of it.

Follow the money. The cost

Follow the money.

The cost of health care for older employees is statistically much more expensive than for younger employees.

It is not prejudice against older workers that will make finding my next job difficult. It is the probable cost of putting me in the company's insurance pool compared with the cost of a younger person.

Wonder what happens when all

Wonder what happens when all of your workers are in a "protected" class? When it comes time for layoffs or promotions, do you spreadsheet everyone for age, gender, race, disability and sexual preference so you can make sure you make all employment decisions "equal"? Of course, the things not on your spreadsheet will be attendance, evaluations, or accomplishments- in other words, competency and conscientiousness- or they will be suborned to the external factors to avoid running afoul of the law.

A commenter on Brad Delong's blog noted that it's already been ruled that said age discrimination doesn't have to be proved to be "intentional", making it necessary for companies to impose quotas so they won't "discriminate" unintentionally. The irony is that Brad's lead posting is about how bad things are in Europe, especially France and Germany, due to government meddling in the private marketplace.

PJ O’Rourke said it best:

PJ O’Rourke said it best: Age and guile beat youth and a bad haircut.

One of my favorite books.