Should Anti-Discrimination Protections for Older Workers Be Strengthened? (H.R. 1230)
Do you support or oppose this bill?
What is H.R. 1230?
(Updated September 29, 2020)
This bill — the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act — would clarify that considering age in any employment practice is prohibited, even if factors other than age motivated the practice in part. To establish that an unlawful employment practice occurred, a complaining party could rely on any type or form of admissible evidence that’s sufficient for a reasonable trier of fact to find that an unlawful practice occurred. The complaining party wouldn’t be required to demonstrate that age or a protected activity was the sole cause of a practice as required by a Supreme Court ruling in (2009).
For a claim in which an individual demonstrates that age was a motivating factor for an employment practice and the respondent demonstrates that they would’ve taken the same action absent the impermissible motivating factor, the court:
Could grant declaratory relief, injunctive relief, and attorney’s fees or costs that are directly attributable to a claim.
Could not award damages or issue an order requiring any admission, reinstatement, hiring, or payment.
Argument in favor
This bill would ease the standard of proof older workers face when claiming age-related employment discrimination and retaliation by removing the requirement that they show their employer’s action was based solely on age.
While this bill may make it easier for older workers to prove that they faced age-related discrimination in the workplace, the fact that it precludes the courts from awarding them anything beyond legal fees means it will primarily benefit trial lawyers.
Older workers who face discrimination; employers who undertake prohibited employment actions; and courts.
Cost of H.R. 1230
The CBO estimates that enacting this bill would require the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to hire about 20 new employees to handle the additional workload at a cost of about $2 million annually over the 2020-2024 period.
In-Depth: House Education & Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) introduced this bill to strengthen anti-discrimination protections for older workers:
“Discrimination shuts too many people out of good paying jobs. All Americans -- regardless of their age -- should be able to go to work every day knowing that they are protected from discrimination. The Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act would ensure there are no additional barriers for older Americans when making a discrimination claim compared to any other protected class. This legislation is a step toward restoring the rights of older workers.”
Original cosponsor Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) added:
“Older Americans should be valued because of their experiences, not viewed as a liability due to their age. This bipartisan legislation will restore fairness in the workplace for our more seasoned workers, providing them the peace of mind that they will not be unfairly fired from their job because of age discrimination.”
The House version of this bill passed the Education & Workforce Committee on a 27-18 vote that was mostly along party-lines. Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-NC) explained the opposition by most GOP members in this bill’s committee report:
“H.R. 1230 is an unnecessary and misleading bill that does not “protect older workers.” Committee Democrats failed to allow a proper examination of H.R. 1230, depriving Members of the opportunity to review the legislation appropriately before it was considered by the Committee. Supporters of the bill also failed to demonstrate that the legislation is needed, or that it will actually help workers. H.R. 1230 was instead written for the benefit of trial lawyers, ensuring they will be paid, while most workers will not receive any monetary damages, other payments, or reinstatement.”
This legislation has the support of 91 cosponsors, including 80 Democrats and 11 Republicans, and the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) has expressed support for the bill. A companion bill in the Senate that was introduced with similar bipartisan support from Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) — the ranking member and chairwoman of the Special Committee on Aging — plus Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and Patrick Leahy (D-VT).
Summary by Eric Revell(Photo Credit: iStock.com / MangoStar_Studio)
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