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Poll: NC Citizens Say Age Discrimination is Getting Old

Photo: Dick Hatch filed an EEOC complaint after he didn't get an interview for a job he was qualified for. He got the interview and the job. Photo courtesy of Hatch.
Photo: Dick Hatch filed an EEOC complaint after he didn't get an interview for a job he was qualified for. He got the interview and the job. Photo courtesy of Hatch.
April 8, 2014

PERRY, N.C. - At age 58, Dick Hatch of Perry found himself laid off and in need of a job. Hatch is an attorney who applied for a position at a Raleigh company, and he said in spite of being qualified for the attorney position, he was not granted an interview. After filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), he interviewed for the job and got it.

Now retired and in his 80s, Hatch has joined the 82 percent of voters over age 50 who support bipartisan legislation to fight age discrimination, according to an AARP survey.

"I think age discrimination exists even now, and maybe even more so," Hatch said. "The problem is, the law has changed."

Congress is currently considering legislation (HR-2852) that would overturn a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2009 that made it more difficult for older workers to prove claims of illegal bias based on age. The bill is currently in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, of which North Carolina Sens. Hagan and Burr are both members.

According to AARP, older Americans who are laid off are out of work on average for 13 months, compared to under 60 days for their younger counterparts. Hatch said it is important for companies to realize that older Americans provide a depth of experience and knowledge that is still valuable in the workforce.

"The company that hired me, after my age discrimination and employment charge, I think they've improved substantially," Hatch said.

Until the 2009 Supreme Court ruling, if an older worker showed that age was one motivating factor in an employment decision, the employer had to prove it would have made the same decision without considering the employee's age. The legislation under consideration now would restore that standard.

The complete survey is available from AARP at states.aarp.org.

Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service - NC