AARP hosted a hearing in Cedar Rapids this morning on a change in law proposed by Iowa’s two U.S. Senators designed to stop discrimination against older Americans in the workplace. The president-elect of the national AARP board, Eric Schneidewind, came to Iowa for the hearing.
Schneidewind says an employee used to be able to claim they had been discriminated because of their age, and the employer had to show the employee had been treated fairly. He says a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in an Iowa case in 2008 changed that, as the ruling said the worker now has to show the age discrimination was a decisive reason for the bad treatment and if not for the discrimination that treatment wouldn’t have happened.
Schneidewind says that has turned the tables against older workers. “It made it much, much harder to prove discrimination, and it indeed said some discrimination was okay,” according to Schneidewind. Iowa Senators Tom Harkin and Chuck Grassley introduced the “Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act” to counter the court ruling. “It doesn’t really change the law, it just makes sure that the interpretation of the law goes back to that 2008 standard that was in place for many years, which says if the employee shows some discrimination, then the employer’s got to come back and show that they did follow the law,” Schneidewind says.
Schneidewind says older Americans are deciding to work longer to improve their financial security, and without the change, they could be prevented from working. Schneidewind plans to spend a few more days in the state talking to Iowans about AARP issues.