Bipartisan Group of House Members Introduces Bill to Protect Older Workers from Age Discrimination

WASHINGTON – Today, Education and the Workforce Committee Ranking Member Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03), Representative Glenn Grothman (WI-06), Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Subcommittee Ranking Member Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), Representative Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), Workforce Protections Subcommittee Ranking Member Alma Adams (NC-12), and Representative Jeff Van Drew (NJ-02) introduced H.R. 6581, the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act (POWADA), a bipartisan proposal to strengthen anti-discrimination protections for older workers.

In 2009, the Supreme Court’s decision in Gross v. FBL Financial Services, Inc. weakened protections against age discrimination under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). Under Gross, plaintiffs seeking to prove age discrimination in employment are required to demonstrate that age was the decisive motivating factor for the employer’s adverse action.

POWADA returns the legal standard for age discrimination claims to the pre-2009 evidentiary threshold,aligning the burden of proof with the same standards for proving discrimination based on based on race and national origin.

“Everyone—regardless of their age—should be able to go to work every day knowing that they are protected from discrimination. Unfortunately, age discrimination in the workplace is depriving older workers of opportunities and exposing them to long-term unemployment and severe financial hardship. More than a decade ago, the Supreme Court undermined protections for older workers by setting an unreasonable burden of proof for age discrimination claims. The Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act is a bipartisan bill that would finally restore the legal rights of older workers by ensuring that the burdens of proof in age discrimination claims are treated in the same manner as other discrimination claims,” said Ranking Member Scott (VA-03).

“In my mind, the one form of discrimination that is so widespread is age discrimination against older workers. This affects a whole generation of Americans. Countless people aged 50 and up get laid off at a time when they still have mortgages to pay and children to support, and they find it very difficult to find a job. Employers also let go of older individuals as companies look to avoid higher insurance costs. The Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act is a crucial bipartisan initiative that aims to restore legal safeguards for older workers by ensuring that age discrimination claims receive just as much credibility as other claims of workplace discrimination,” said Grothman (WI-06).

“Discrimination should never be tolerated in the workplace. Yet too often, older workers encounter discrimination on the job or when seeking employment. And when they do, they face barriers to proving their case because workers who experience age discrimination have to meet a higher burden of proof than people claiming discrimination based on race, national origin, or religion. That’s wrong, and it’s time for a remedy. I’m co-leading the bipartisan Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act to restore protections for older workers and give them the ability to hold employers accountable for age discrimination,” said Ranking Member Bonamici (OR-01).

“All Americans, regardless of age, should be protected from discrimination in the workplace,” said Congressman Fitzpatrick (PA-01)“Our bipartisan Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act will ensure that age discrimination claims are subject to an appropriate burden of proof, and I am proud to join my colleagues on this legislation to protect workers.”

“We must stand strongly against all forms of discrimination, which includes discrimination against older Americans. Labor law must protect the dignity of all workers and recognize that discrimination against older Americans is discrimination all the same. The Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act (POWADA) will ensure that older workers will be fairly treated in the job market, returning the legal standard for proving discrimination back to its original intent. Discrimination based on age has no place in our workforce,” said Ranking Member Alma Adams (NC-12).

“In America, we uphold the principle of individuals being judged on their abilities, free from discrimination. Everyone, regardless of their age, deserves that same freedom,” said Congressman Van Drew (NJ-02)“For far too long, older workers have faced barriers to employment. This has not only kept capable individuals out of the workforce but has also forced many into unemployment and hardship. I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act to ensure that individuals in South Jersey, and nationwide, have equal opportunities to challenge discrimination, just as younger people do.”

POWADA amends four laws—the Americans with Disabilities Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and the Rehabilitation Act. A similar version of the bill was passed in the House with bipartisan support during the 117th Congress.

Read the fact sheet for the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act here.

Read the section-by-section summary of the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act here.


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