As she writes this, Crabby Old Lady’s bile is overflowing big time. Read on:
“Before he turned to hair dye, the first words Levy heard in a recent job interview with a telecom company manager were ‘the average age around here is 28.’”
“…in the middle of a day of [job interview] meetings, the hiring manager abruptly asked Klos to complete an application form, and specifically directed him to include his high school graduation date...
“The job offer dried up within 24 hours. Klos…mentioned the story to his daughter, who had recently completed a personnel-management course at her firm.
“…Her jaw dropped open. ‘Oh my God, they just taught us to do that.’ In her management course, Klos’ daughter was told to insist on high school graduation dates on applications forms. ‘This is our vehicle for making sure that you don’t inadvertently hire older employees,’ Klos’ daughter was told by her company.”
These two incidents are from a story published Monday at marketwatch.com which is subtitled, “Anecdotal evidence suggests age bias in hiring thrives,” and Crabby is grateful to see someone in the press paying attention to what any job seeker older than 50 runs into every day, and even if the reporter displayed her own age bias in burying the lead. Read on.
“’The concept that you can’t teach old dogs new tricks is total nonsense,’ says Paul Boymel, an attorney in the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s office of legal counsel.
“’Every study has shown that, at least where heavy manual labor is not involved, older workers outperform younger workers as a class, with far less absenteeism, far less hopping from job to job, better work ethics,’ he said. But ‘not everybody’s gotten that message.’”
As to the argument that older workers cost companies more to employ than younger workers, Crabby would like to send the bean counters back to accounting school for a refresher course. You cannot honestly place higher salary and benefits costs into the debit column without adding the savings of higher productivity, fewer errors and better judgment of older workers into the asset column.
That said, read on.
According to Renee Ward, founder of seniors4hire.com, who was interviewed for the MarketWatch story, human resources managers don’t even bother to hide their bias.
“At a recent conference, Ward asked a question of some personnel managers: If you posted a job requiring three to five years’ experience, would you deny the job to a candidate with 10 years experience solely because of those extra years?
“The consensus was yes, she said. ‘An older person can’t do this job,’ a 30-something manager at a perfume company told Ward. ‘She was just blatant about it,’ Ward said, noting that three other people at the table agreed with the manager.”
There is a little experiment we occasionally perform at Time Goes By to check if we are being overly sensitive about age discrimination. We substitute the word "black" for "older" to see how objectionable - and illegal - it might be. Let's try it here: "A black person can't do this job."
Imagine how different the MarketWatch story would be if the the 30-something manager had said that to the reporter: It would have been the headline - "XYZ Perfume Company Admits Racial Bias in Hiring." The reporter would have named the young manager's employer who would then make a showcase firing of the woman in a scramble to uphold the company's reputation, and Jesse Jackson would be all over the story, demanding an official investigation of the company.
But when older people are the target of bias, it is reported only as shameful, not important enough to name names.
Age is the last acceptable discrimination. It openly abounds in corporate America and if anyone ever again suggests Crabby Old Lady is imagining it in her job search, she swears she’ll smack ‘em.