Senate Consideration of POWADA Is Urged
HARRISBURG, PA--AARP Pennsylvania today praised 10 Pennsylvania U.S. House members for voting to support bipartisan legislation to combat age discrimination – the "Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act" (POWADA). The House of Representatives vote Wednesday approving the bill is the most important action yet in the long drive toward passage.
Pennsylvania Representatives voting for the bill included Reps. Brendan Boyle (D-2), Matthew Cartwright (D-8), Madeline Dean (D-4), Mike Doyle (D-18), Dwight Evans (D-3), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-1), Chrissy Houlahan (D-6), Connor Lamb (D-17), Mary Gay Scanlon (D-5), and Susan Wild (D-7).
"These representatives have joined with others in sending a clear message that age discrimination must be treated as seriously as other forms of workplace discrimination," said AARP Pennsylvania State Director Bill Johnston-Walsh. "This vote is especially heartening for older workers, who make vital contributions to society and to their workplaces, and whose numbers are growing. The law must be strengthened because age discrimination is widespread, yet too often it goes unreported and unaddressed. AARP urges the Senate to take up and pass these important protections."
POWADA was first introduced, with AARP backing, after an adverse 2009 Supreme Court decision (Gross v. FBL Financial Services, Inc.) that made it much more difficult for older workers to prove claims of illegal bias based on age. The legislation would restore longstanding protections under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), which covers workers aged 40 and over.
In the Senate, the bipartisan companion legislation (S.485) is sponsored by Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey and Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley.
The House action comes as older workers play an increasingly important role in the workforce. Estimates are that by 2024, 41 million people ages 55 and older will be in the labor force, nearly an eight percent increase from the current number. In addition, next year the oldest millennials will start turning 40 and then will be covered by the ADEA.
The percentage of those 65 and older in the workforce has been increasing incrementally for more than three decades, with more than one in five in that cohort currently working or seeking work.
At the same time, the 2018 AARP "Value of Experience" study showed that age discrimination remains alive and well. The survey found that 61 percent of older workers said they had either faced or observed age bias. That figure is consistent with past surveys on the question.