Is it COVID or Age Discrimination?

According to Tamara Lytle, writing for the AARP Bulletin, while the COVID-19 pandemic has cost millions of people their jobs, statistics reveal that older workers lost their jobs more often and were not rehired as frequently or as quickly as younger workers. More and more people are reporting stories that strongly suggest illegal age discrimination may be playing a role in their being laid off or fired. The question is, did employers use the pandemic as an excuse to get rid of older workers, which would be a direct violation of federal age-discrimination law? And how can one tell if it really is age discrimination? Advocates for older workers suggest looking for these signs:

  • Has the person who did the firing or made the furlough decision also made such age-related remarks as the worker seems to be “slowing down”?
  • How was the person treated, compared with younger workers, such as those with less seniority and poor job ratings?
  • Is the stated reason that someone was laid off actually a not true?
  • Are older workers a disproportionate number of those being let go?
  • Is the employer offering benefits, such as remote work, to some employees but not to older workers?