Thursday, October 08, 2009

Too Old For This

Last June, I commented on the Supreme Court decision of Gross v FBL Financial which made it harder for older Americans to prove age bias in worker discrimination cases. The 5-4 decision written by Justice Clarence Thomas held that workers had to prove that age discrimination was the decisive reason for layoff or demotion. That's an almost impossible burden of proof unless the worker got told directly that the action was because "you're too old to keep on board." The hook that Justice Thomas used for the holding was that while other employment discrimination legislation had been amended on the issue of burden of proof, Congress had not included age discrimination in the amendments, thereby indicating an intention to make it harder for older workers to sue their employers.

That, of course, was utter nonsense, but it did indicate a way to fix the mess. An AP report published in the Boston Globe notes that Congress is getting around to the job. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) introduced such a bill on October 6. While the text for S.1756 was not yet available at Thomas when I checked last night, there is enough there to confirm that the bill does what I hoped it would.

The bill has now been referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions which Sen. Harkins chairs. Here's a list of others on the committe:

Democrats by Rank

Tom Harkin (IA)
Christopher Dodd (CT)
Barbara A. Mikulski (MD)
Jeff Bingaman (NM)
Patty Murray (WA)
Jack Reed (RI)
Bernard Sanders (I) (VT)
Sherrod Brown (OH)
Robert P. Casey, Jr. (PA)
Kay Hagan (NC)
Jeff Merkley (OR)
Al Franken (MN)
Michael Bennet (CO)

Republicans by Rank

Michael B. Enzi (WY)
Judd Gregg (NH)
Lamar Alexander (TN)
Richard Burr (NC)
Johnny Isakson (GA)
John McCain (AZ)
Orrin G. Hatch (UT)
Lisa Murkowski (AK)
Tom Coburn, M.D. (OK)
Pat Roberts (KS).

If one of your senators is on the committee, do an old broad a favor and drop them a note asking them to get busy on the bill so that it can go to the full Senate. Unemployment for workers 55 and older is at an all-time high, even higher than for most categories of younger workers. We know what the Roberts Court thinks of workers, but we have a perfectly legitimate way to get around that bias. We just have to start using it.

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Blogger erich said...

nice blog!

7:14 AM  

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