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Age discrimination affecting Pennsylvania employees

In Pennsylvania and around the country, many older workers are finding it harder and harder to get a job, or to advance at their current job. Experts believe that this could be the result of age discrimination, which often goes undetected and unreported. Age bias can manifest itself in many ways, particularly in employer attitudes towards hiring people who are nearing retirement age.

Some employers believe that older workers are inflexible or can't learn new skills, and some have concerns about high healthcare costs or older workers leaving a job or company sooner than younger workers.

Many employers' preconceived notions about older workers can be wrong. For instance, there are often concerns that older employees won't stay at the company as long as their younger counterparts, which results in higher costs in the long term for training and rehiring. However, statistics show that compared with previous generations, older workers are staying on the job in larger numbers. In 1985, only 18 percent of 65-69 year-olds were still working. In 2005, survey results showed that 29 percent of people in that age group were still working.

There are some things that experts say older workers can do to try to combat age discrimination, but the truth is that they shouldn't have to. Age discrimination is illegal in Pennsylvania and under federal laws. Employees who believe they have been the victim of unfair treatment at work such as denial of promotional opportunities, less pay, or harassment based on their age should not accept the situation as inevitable. Workers can pursue a variety of remedies for the unfair treatment and speaking up can help stop a discriminatory practice from affecting others.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Workzone: Discriminatory job practices working against older workers," Patricia Sabatini, Dec. 23, 2012.

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