Monday, February 18, 2008

On The Docket

Interesting fact: the US Supreme Court has accepted five age discrimination suits for hearing this term, according to an AP article published yesterday. The lede paragraph was pretty interesting itself.

There is only one anti-bias law - the one against discrimination based on age - that would cover all nine Supreme Court justices, if such laws applied to them.

The justices, ranging in age from 53 to 87, are the last people to worry about such things in their own lives. They have life tenure and no mandatory retirement age.

Yet the justices are confronted by allegations of age discrimination in five cases this term. While the sheer number of cases probably can be explained away as coincidence, the topic is one of growing importance as more people work longer because of economic necessity or by choice.
[Emphasis added]

I very much doubt that the decision to accept these cases has anything to do with the ages of the justices, and I certainly don't think the current justices will be particularly sympathetic to the workers' who have filed the suits because of their age, nor should they be. After all, the Court is supposed to construe the statute involved without letting their personal biases influence them.

The five cases themselves have in common only the fact that they were brought under the statute.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act applies to workers who are at least 40. It prohibits discrimination based on age in hiring and firing, promotions and pay. ...

The cases at the court this year include what kind of evidence an employee may present to bolster an age discrimination claim; whether retirement-age workers are entitled to disability payments; and whether federal workers who complain about age discrimination are protected from retaliation.

The fact is, however, that we can anticipate more such suits being filed because there are more elders continuing to work beyond the traditional retirement age. The numbers themselves are not particularly surprising.

The percentage of people 65 and over who continue to work has grown from 10.8 percent in 1985 to 16 percent last year, AARP said. For people 55 to 64, the numbers also are up, from 54.2 percent in 1985 to 63.8 percent in 2007.

Nor is it particularly surprising that even in this youth oriented culture elders refuse to be shoved out of their jobs and/or their benefits peacefully. Many are working because they have to, especially now that their 501ks have been reduced to 101ks and employer funded pensions are mostly things of the past.

The rulings on these five cases will certainly set the stage for the five years at least, which is about the time I will qualify for full benefits under Social Security. I certainly hope the justices get it right, although I am not optimistic.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

The percentage of people 65 and over who continue to work has grown...

This will continue to grow as boomers have to be 66 and beyond to be eligible for full social security.

--snarkworth, not anonymous

5:10 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Exactly right, snarkworth, and I'm one of those boomers.

5:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As am I. Too young for social security, too old not to worry about age discrimination.

And then there's the loss of health insurance that accompanies early retirement/job loss. People of a certain age are at risk for chronic illness, and require an array of health screenings.


6:05 AM  
Blogger Alan Bostick said...

After all, the Court is supposed to construe the statute involved without letting their personal biases influence them.

I can't make up my mind between two comments:

(a) "Pull the other one; it has bells on."

(b) "So are they all, all honorable men."

10:32 AM  

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