Term Paper: Age Discrimination the Type

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Age Discrimination

The type of discrimination is new. In fact age was regarded as a type of virtue because the aged employee often was the expert who could do things better than others. The global scenario, changes in production technology and the cost cutting needs of companies to manage keeping low costs to be competitive ushered in the discrimination against aged employees. Employees today are a heterogeneous group comprising of people from many age groups and ethnicities. There are different types of discrimination that is practiced at the workplace. Examining some of them and their causes will clarify the issues regarding age-based discrimination. There are many forms of discrimination that could be because of disability. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 had to be passed on account of this. Similarly racial discrimination is rampant. When Gunnar Myrdal called it an "American Dilemma" the reference was to the oppression of African-Americans in the workplace. This still continues in spite of laws and social reactions.

Age discrimination is the most prevalent type of discrimination witnessed at the workplace. This type of discrimination spans all population of people regardless of sex, race and place of origin. The other forms of discrimination pertain to one section of society, while this discrimination based on age is more widespread and complicated. The EEOC which is in change of administering the ADEA regulation also admits the petitions of age discrimination. The member who files the dispute must prove that he is from a protected age group. The petitioner was also qualified to do the job, and was discharged under circumstance that could lead to an inference with regard to age discrimination. If the charges are proved, the employer becomes liable. The most important factor relates to the complainant's age which is regarded to be the only consideration for the petition. The annals of the courts are replete with cases against employers who in order to cut costs replaced older higher salaried employees with raw hands. Companies change employees or fire them for many reasons, and the allegation on account of age being a factor is a thin veil which will have to be looked up with care. In the ADEA rulings it is not an issue if the other employees are less aged or the age of the complainant is lesser.

To begin with a company hires employees based on skills like experience and education, but theorists argue that each employee also brings his skill, and also a "group or social identity and a personal identity. Often our social identities motivate how others will respond to us both inside and outside of the workplace." Identities can be thus got from the gender, race, place of birth and other factors that need not necessarily involve skills. These settings by themselves offer venues for discrimination. Thus group mentality by itself is a trigger for discrimination at the work place. Thus socially triggered oppression and discrimination with regard to a trait, a disability or the sex of the employee by itself is one aspect.

The second aspect is the dynamic nature of the process of production and reorganization through automation. Products and processes are being automated more and more, and the worker is less in demand. This leads to anomalies in employment, wage structure and the system in place to protect the worker is now powerless to accommodate the changes. These changes have to be seen in the background while considering the efficiency of the commission in today's context. The innovations occur day by day and come "both from technological innovation (labor-saving machines, automation) and from tight technical control over work processes. In mass manufacturing, managers, relying on scientific management and industrial engineering, improve the fortunes of their companies and of the economy as a whole, by breaking work down into narrow, repetitive tasks that people with no special skills can perform with the aid of special machines." This changes the definition sand meanings of the context of the acts which the commission is the authority to enforce.

Lynne Bennington is of the opinion that "With the imminent aging of the workforce, and the increasing numbers of people with career responsibilities who need or wish to work, the under- standing, detection and subsequent removal of discrimination in employment is of critical importance to an egalitarian society." The question is if the anti-aging discrimination legislation will succeed or be come a failure, not only in the U.S. But in other nations where it has been introduced. A variety of methods have been used to try to establish the existence of discrimination.

Causes of Age Discrimination

Many things have been blamed on globalization but perhaps this is more antedated. The basic need for discrimination with regard to age lies in the increasing benefits that accrue to employees as their seniority increases. Companies find it easier to employ younger persons at lesser wages than settle for seniors. That could be one reason. The other relates to the changing technology and the speed of doing business with more and more automation. Younger generations adapt to technology like computers faster than the seniors. In times of depression and glut in the market the companies need to down size which results in axing off those jobs that are basically not important. The chance of a senior occupying such a post has high possibility. "The term downsizing refers to the reduction of the workforce through either voluntary or involuntary means or a combination of both. Corporate downsizing of privately and publicly owned firms has been a common occurrence in recent years. Restructuring has become a popular method for streamlining organizations. More than half of the Fortune 500 corporations have slashed their corporate staffs. Since 1979, over 1.5 mil- lion managerial and staff positions have been eliminated."

From the 1980s when the expansion in business took place, downsizing has been a frequent phenomenon. One example is that the "Fortune 500 industrial companies alone lost more than 3.2 million jobs in the 1980s." This has also spread later to banking, service sectors and other business units. Downsizing has been one of the major causes of age-based discrimination. Journalists and the media have brought to light some of the practices that go in corporate environments including discrimination. This along with individual petitions to courts and the rulings from various courts resulted in a great batch of regulations and protective laws mostly against employee discrimination. The age related discrimination also was a subject of this issue and hence the law. Age discrimination thus is now illegal and there is a legal remedy for the affected.

Effects of Age Discrimination

The greatest evil that can happen if age discrimination is allowed to go on will be increase in the poverty levels in general and the loss of the quality of the life for the affected and his or her family. Individuals may suffer trauma, loss of prestige and other psychological stress. The loss of income will also deny them the fundamental facilities and the limited income of the rest of the family will be share with them thus making them a burden. One step in this direction to help ageing America was the 'Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act - PRWORA' of the year 1996 that helped exploring self-employment. However, where a person was fit to work and willing, he or she must not be denied the opportunity. By allowing seniors to contribute the employer actually allows for greater stability in the economy and society.

As far back as in 1992 there were over four million elderly persons in the U.S. who were officially declared poor. At that time the poverty was calculated to be over thirteen percent. The poverty of people as head count tells us the individual numbers, but do not tell anything with regard to the feature of the poverty. For the measure of poverty among the elderly, a different set of variables have to be considered. The importance of their living arrangements ought to be considered. If an individual is unemployed at the age of fifty then the rest of the family need to spread the resources that it gets to support persons who otherwise would have earned for themselves.

In case where the family has other unlearning members like children the problem becomes worse. The passing of family resources to the benefit of the individual is accompanied by two problems. One is that the share of the resources within the family with the elderly requiring more shares of the resources, and the second is the type of the families. Larger families have resources to share operating on an economy of scale, but the smaller families have the impact of the scarcity of resources with regard to distribution among members where there are elderly persons with more requirements present. This coupled with many other social costs create a burden on the state in the long run. Thus the artificially created poverty will in turn affect the whole nation. It will also affect the very companies that… [END OF PREVIEW]

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