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AARP Utah Survey Shows Strong Support for Age-Discrimination Bill

PHOTO: In Utah, 85 percent of respondents to an AARP survey said they'd support legislation that would reduce the burden of proof required in age discrimination cases. Photo courtesy Kansas Office of the Securities Commissioner.
PHOTO: In Utah, 85 percent of respondents to an AARP survey said they'd support legislation that would reduce the burden of proof required in age discrimination cases. Photo courtesy Kansas Office of the Securities Commissioner.
April 3, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY – A new AARP survey shows overwhelming support in Utah for bipartisan legislation in Congress that could help older workers prove age discrimination.

Laura Polacheck, communications director at AARP Utah, says the recent poll of registered Utah voters over age 50, shows 85 percent would support passage of the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act – no matter what their political affiliation.

"And when you look at the breakdown of people who identified themselves as liberal, moderate or conservative, you get 85 percent-plus from all of these groups favoring passage,” she explains. “So, it's really across the board."

The survey found 40 percent of Utahns reported that they or someone they know have experienced age discrimination.

Polacheck says AARP is hopeful that the current political climate is right for Congress to pass legislation to do more to protect older workers on the job.

Lauren Scholneck, an attorney in Salt Lake City who works on age discrimination cases, says the legislation would help counter a 2009 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that increased the burden of proof on a plaintiff to prove he or she as discriminated against based on age.

"It raised the bar for age cases to make them harder to win, or harder to prove, than discrimination based on other protected classes – for example, gender, national origin, religion, race," she points out.

Scholnick says the Supreme Court ruling has resulted in valid age discrimination cases not being litigated, or being settled for less money than they were worth.

She adds that age discrimination appears to be among the most common forms of prejudice in the Intermountain West.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - UT