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The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

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Essay title: The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) protects against age discrimination under Title VII. Specifically, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), which was passed in 1967 by congress, covers discrimination against employees who are 40 or more years old. This topic should be a big concern for employers, since the number of elderly workers is increasing as the baby boomer population matures. It is estimated that as many as twenty-percent of the claims filed with the EEOC are for age discrimination. Also, age discrimination settlements can be considerably higher than typical discrimination cases. Upon research, the average award amount between 1955 and 1988 was $219,000. (www.ama.net). For this reason alone, employers should take care of how they handle their aging workers.

As mentioned above, the EEOC is responsible for enforcing the age discrimination regulations, including the ADEA of 1967. This regulation is in effect supposed to "promote employment of older persons based on their ability rather than age; to prohibit arbitrary age discrimination in employment; and to help employers and workers find ways of meeting problems arising from the impact of age on employment." (www.eeoc.gov). The ADEA presides over the boundaries for age discrimination in all aspects of employment. It not only protects against discrimination for employees, but job applicants as well. Even job advertisements must not include age discrimination. For example, an employer cannot list in its job postings that it is looking for new college graduates because this would single out older, perhaps just as qualified, workers. Age discrimination is also unlawful in apprenticeship programs, pre-employment inquiries, and benefits. The ADEA applies to any company that employs more than 20 people, and age can only be a job requirement if it can be shown that it is a bona fide occupational qualification, but this can be very difficult to prove.

Some cases of age discrimination that I came across while researching this topic include: Parrish v. Immanuel Medical Center (Bennett-Alexander, p.418.). Surprisingly, many of the companies referenced in age discrimination cases were big-name companies. Some of these included: Westinghouse Electric, Northrop Grumman, Continental Airlines, First Union Corp., and Detroit Edison.

In the case involving Parrish and Immanuel Medical Center, the discrimination claim was filed by 66 year old Mary Ruth Parrish, member of a protected class. She alleged that she was discriminated against because of her age after she returned from work from a leave and was told she had to transfer positions instead of returning to her former job. Originally, she was a registrar and scheduled patient appointments. She was consistently given good performance reviews and was very accurate, despite not being as "quick" as some of the other workers. With her claim, she needed to prove that she was qualified for the job and was able to meet all the legitimate job requirements. It was up to the employer to prove that the opposite was true. In this case, the court found that even though the company alleged and their defense was that Parrish was slow and not able to keep

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