Fix Supreme Court Trashing of Anti-Age Discrimination Laws; Bob Weiner, Former House Aging Committee Director Urges Action Before Election Adjournment; Miami Herald Op-ed

Jun 24, 2010, 00:01 ET from Robert Weiner Associates

WASHINGTON, June 24 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- "The increasingly pro-big business Supreme Court has taken away seniors' power against employment discrimination and given it to business," asserts former House Aging Committee Chief of Staff Robert Weiner. "Pending congressional legislation, with hearings on it just completed, could overturn the Supreme Court's decision and shift the burden of proof back to the employer."

Congress is now deciding what bills to pass before the election adjournment, and Weiner contends that "seniors and disabled citizens seniors and handicapped citizens in Florida and across the nation should support this major legislative fix."

In an op-ed in the Miami Herald, "Fix Court's Trashing of Anti-Age Discrimination Act," Weiner and policy analyst Yusuf Hassan quote the late Congressman Claude Pepper (D-Miami), former Chairman of the House Aging Committee, who said: "Ageism is as odious as racism and sexism." He led passage of the anti-mandatory retirement acts of 1978 and 1986.

However, according to Weiner and Hassan, "Age discrimination complaints rose by an astounding 30% last year. Companies are taking out the economic crisis on their older workers."

"Last summer, a 5-to-4 Supreme Court ruling made it more difficult for working seniors to win age-discrimination lawsuits under a law that bans employers from discriminating against workers 40 or older.

"A jury awarded a 54 year-old worker $47,000 in lost compensation, but the U.S. Court of Appeals reversed the verdict, asserting that the jury made an 'error' in shifting the burden of proof from the worker to the company. The Supreme Court upheld the Appeals Court, laying the burden on the older employee for challenges to demotion or termination.  The Appeals Court made the problem even worse – it extended the Age Discrimination ruling to the Americans with Disabilities Act.  Now, for both older and handicapped workers, employers can continue to use vague phrases such as 're-structuring' to mask intentions."

The House Judiciary and Labor committees, led by Reps. John Conyers (D-MI) and George Miller (D-CA), and Senate Labor and Pensions Committee under Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), just completed hearings on legislation, the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act, to overturn the Supreme Court's decision.

Link to article:

Contact: Bob Weiner/Gavriel Swerling 301-283-0821 or 202-306-1200

SOURCE Robert Weiner Associates