In this current time, age discrimination has increased reported incidents around the world. For many, this type of discrimination is hampering the rights of employees or artists who were given less priority to claim a certain privilege or opportunity. This is due to the preference of institutions and groups towards the younger generation who are more active and cooperative. The aging population is concerned that this type of discrimination can significantly affect their emotional integrity due to the intimidating factors caused by stereotyping companies.
However, there are new laws that are attempting to prevent this situation from happening in the future. Companies are usually apprehended after finding out that they have been involved in discriminative nature towards individuals who are subjected for apprehension. Now, the law of discrimination is slowly gaining presence around the world due to its negative impact to the community with the elderly population (Prokurat, 2012).
As for the case of Liebman v. Metropolitan Life Insurance, the issue is all about discrimination on the basis of age.
Employees were restricted from receiving benefits as well as having the threat on discontinuing their employment contract based on their older age group. As a result, their financial and emotional well-being is compromised due to the fact that elderly employees are already singled out by the company. The main goal is to employ younger individuals who are more technically skilled and does not have any medical conditions to continue the business efficiently. As a response to this application, limiting the aging workforce has been generating a concern to the community due to the unfair treatment of Metropolitan Life Insurance.
Although there are laws prohibiting age discrimination, this law is not totally implemented as it causes an individual to become degraded with a privilege on working with the company whom does not want older employees.
Older employees have benefits to claim, which are the insurances and job opportunities since they are still productive as the younger population. The most interesting fact in this feature is their ability to comprehend simple tasks provided by the company, “old school etiquette”. This is because there are new laws that provide multiple privileges for the elderly to receive benefits as they have already contributed significant productive practices in the community. Instances of age-related discrimination are often managed by the Supreme Court if there are brave elderly employees who managed to file for a legal lawsuit against their employer. The involvement of the Supreme Court generates public attention due to the nature of the lawsuit that provides a wake-up call for companies to start considering age discrimination to become more affiliated with equal treatment. Example is when an employee is fired due to a health condition, which attracts the attention of the authorities.
Elderly employees are understandably weaker as compared to the younger generation. Employees aged 65 and above are mostly experiencing health problems due to a poor sedentary lifestyle that limits their physical and mental performance. They may need to work longer due to lack of retirement income and limited insurance coverages. This is usually the basis of some companies who has been considering if they are still capable of accomplishing several tasks as applied by the managers. The only problem is when elderly becomes sick; it can significantly halt the operation of their performance, leading to a disruption or delays with a certain process. The impact of traditional common law constraints on managers could risk the company’s productivity at a given time and strain the performance of the company if the company still employs an individual who is already suffering from discomforts at a given time. For example, a 72-year-old employee, employed with the company for 29 years, with a second diagnosis of breast cancer. With treatments and surgeries, she returns to work from FMLA and Short-Term Disability, however, she is tired and still healing. She is unable to handle the day-to-day responsibilities. With modifications to her workload, how long does the employer continue paying her wages when like employees have additional workloads?
From the negative point of view from employers as managers, they believe that it is the right choice for elderly employees to have a limited employment contract. The main reason is that there are physical, mental, and emotional limitations associated with the skills and knowledge performance. As managers, the welfare of the company is always considered as an important consideration to ensure that the level of productivity is competent. Managers are aware that there are corresponding benefits awaiting elderly employees, which is beneficial as compared to the younger generation. This reason has been considering civil rights groups concerned due to the risk of disconnecting affected employees from having a productive socio-economic lifestyle. As a result, there is a surge in seniors filing bankruptcy according to the Washington Post (Singletary, 2018). There is a higher cost of living and Social Security alone will not sustain their debt without a supplemental income.
With response to the legal laws, the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) is an institution that regulates all issues of age-related discrimination within the workplace. It conducts investigation to companies involved with complaints of discriminating their employees based on their age. The Age Discrimination Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) is another law that aims to sanction any company, individual, or group involved in segregating other individuals basing on their age, race, color, nationality, or gender (Clarkson, 2012). There are corresponding punishments and financial liabilities for individuals who have been proven on committing discrimination against other individuals or even groups. For Older Worker Benefits Protection Act (OWBPA), it aims to provide more benefits for the elderly population to have more opportunities to maintain their productive socio-economic status. By reaching the age of 65, there are several benefits and compensation opportunities that are provided to them regardless of the company they are currently affiliated to in order to prevent any risk of committing financial losses (Echavarria, 2015).
When we say age discrimination, this is the process wherein an individual has been degraded with their right or privilege basing on their age aside from their health conditions. This scenario usually occurs at the workplace wherein the affected employee has been regarded as a liability by the company or an individual responsible for discriminating an employee. At first, the affected employee may not realize that their age is the factor for influencing their employment viability. However, they become emotionally frustrated whenever discovering that they have been segregated due to their age. Therefore, there are laws such as the ADEA who can be responsible for monitoring companies involved in these illegal acts towards elderly for a possibility of apprehension. As a result, it seeks to protect all affected employees who are at risk from being laid off from the company they are currently working.
One major job example is a pilot because airline companies are always ensuring the full safety of their passengers while traversing in mid-air. Pilots who are already old are required not to continue their service, especially if they failed recent vision testing. The visual acuity of people who are already in their elder stage can be observed having a blurred vision. Health care employees such as doctors and nurses are also required to retire at the age of 65, in which their physical capacity may no longer sustain their productive skills and knowledge at the workplace. As a physician or nurse, working in the health care facility require physical demand that elders cannot sustain while at work. In this case, there are several factors such as acquiring nosocomial infection, accidents, and the risk of injury that other health care practitioners are not considering any lawsuits from the employees (Skelsey, 2013).
Employers can protect themselves from any risk of facing discriminative nature by means of complying with the law. Every employer must understand that there are EEOC applications that monitor companies from any risk of being involved in discriminatory practices. These are institutions who are involved in illegal practice for excluding their employees based on their age. The ADEA is a provision wherein companies or any involved employer will be subjected to legal proceedings once there are strong evidences that they have been involved in such practices. It prohibits employers from forcing these aged employees into retirement if they are in nonmanagerial positions with other criteria (Clarkson, 2012). For OWBPA, employers are raising compensation and benefits for elderly individuals on the basis that they can become a role model to other companies who provides higher benefits for older employees. The 72-year-old employee with breast cancer should be provided accommodations to her hardship (Clarkson, 2012) which may require modifying her job responsibilities to avoid a potential discrimination claim.
With the issue against existing employees on the basis of retirement age, there are certain practices wherein employees are indeed needed to resign after several years of serving the company. One of the most critical issues is the separation pay because when there is a forced retirement for employees, it is important for the companies to pay their separation wage. In this case, employees will have a financial bridge to establish a business after their professional career demise. This employer’s right is regarded as the appoint or dismissal of an employee. This is in accordance to the procedures that complies with the laws to prevent any risk of being discriminated. Furthermore, employers have the rightful decision to protect the interest of their brand or company’s image from any intent to abuse their authority just to conduct illicit activities against the company (Perry, 2014).
For employees over forced retirement indicates that the employer may have the right to protect its own image and reputation from any unjust practices made by the employee. This is because there are conditions wherein the employee may have caught doing illegal or unacceptable practices that promoted harm and intimidation to other employees. When the employee becomes violent enough to cause a significant damage to the company, forced resignation or retirement regardless of age is allowed under the law. In terms of health-related problems, the company may also have the right to ensure that the employee should undergo an immediate rehabilitation. This is regardless of age wherein the employee should not be exerting more effort as their health might be further compromised if they continue to render their service with the company (Levin, 2012)
As for employees who were terminated, the main basis is their behavioral characteristics while working with the company. In favor of employer’s rights, they have always the prerogative to take action against an employee who was caught involved in activities that violates the rules of the company. Sometimes, there are company laws that restrict employees from performing something that has been causing a conflict of interest with the company. One example is when the employee is caught involved in fraudulent transactions that gravely affected the practices of the whole institution. Therefore, the employers believe that they are not going anything wrong because they are just protecting their company and the safety of all other employees of the company (Tuccille, 2012). Employers have the right to terminate their employee if there are scenarios that are considered before deciding to discontinue their working contracts. The first provision is that when the contract has been breached, the employer has the right to let go of the employee regardless of the age, race gender, or nationality.
The first possible impacts of having an older employee within the workplace are the presence of seniority, in which the main goal is to impose an autocratic ambiance to promote discipline within the community or society. Younger employees will learn how to become respectful with other employees, which is responsible for promoting an optimistic camaraderie between two or more employees and other stakeholders. This is all about controlling behaviors that are usually presumed inappropriate under the eyes of elder employees. The second effect is to create balanced behavioral instincts that regulate the attitudes of different personalities in the workplace. Older employees always promote harmonious working relationships with the younger employees by means of sharing their experiences that are useful to prevent any dangerous remarks affecting the integrity of the company. Having a good camaraderie enhances harmonious working relationships because older employees share their knowledge regarding their past experiences with similar situation. In the case mentioned earlier of the employee returning from bouts of breast cancer, she never abused her time and filed for her benefits accordingly. This sets an example to the younger team members of time management. This is because older employees have already experienced certain practices that are important for the company’s implementation of laws such as age discrimination that affects the security of tenure in their respective job. These older employees are able to provide previous reactions from other individuals who encountered discriminatory actions from their past employment experience (Evans, 2012).
It has been learned that age discrimination is a serious offense that can be committed by an individual or group at work. This is solely based on the prejudiced actions applied by the involved offending party towards the victim that has been enduring the agony of suffering from mistreatment. Managers are aware that age discrimination can bring a significant threat to the psychological capacity of an affected individual. The main reason behind this is that employees can be terminated without prior notice, making them financially unstable after the incident. The best solution is to analyze the existing laws applied by the company to discover some rules that promotes prejudiced practices towards the rights of employees. For this reason, there are plenty of times that a person can change the existing law and implementation made by the operating institution with respect to the rights of their employees in compliance with the laws such as EEOC, ADEA and OWBPA (Watkins, 2011). Doing the right thing to ensure the quality of our employees should be a priority in all business structures. Creating an open communication structure will equip managers with the understanding of where the senior employees are in their careers and to support their need to continue working under the circumstances or to assist if one makes the decision to face retirement.