04 May 2010

Legal Age Discrimination

A few months ago I wrote about this topic - more or less - when I wrote about Generation X being irrelevant. It seems that not much has changed, except maybe it has become increasingly clear to some in my age range that being "not old enough to qualify for age discrimination" seems not so strange. And here's how it is perceived by those who are at the tail end of the Baby Boomer generation: people who haven't experienced life like the Vietnam War do not truly understand discrimination; people who didn't grow up with civil rights protests do not truly understand discrimination.

That is just Baby Boomers whining, in my view. It deems the person or persons saying those things as being "the old fogie" --- which is ironic, considering that they were protesting things that "old fogies" were doing prior to the 1960s and 1970s.

I'm not trying to be discriminatory to someone older than I, because I am socially aware of the importance of multiple-generational society. No, in fact, I am pointing out that sometimes it is the older person who is directly discriminating against a younger person simply over an age issue. It's not CALLED an age issue, per se, by the older person --- but it is what it is, something with which they have decided to pick on as "not right". Oddly --- that's what this is about, picking on something I have decided is "not right" --- so, how do I come to justify what I say?

Here's the food for thought, starting with the previous blog about "irrevelant" Gen-X'ers. Even though it may appear the economy is starting to trend toward a rebound from the depression (or for those of you who still wish to say it was only a recession...the recession), we have seen downsizing and outsourcing continue at a steady pace. Unemployment numbers have remained fairly high in Generation X people for much of this time BUT those have dropped a bit due in part to something that gets largely ignored. We run out of unemployment "benefits" and become a statistic which does not exist to the "real world" --- the underpaid. Sure, there have been some statistics about the underemployed --- I am one of these --- but it is the underpaid person who has years, if not decades, of experience in one field and has been forced to take a position with a lesser pay grade or work multiple jobs as a part-time employee in an attempt to make the money she or he was previously making in the "better economic conditions" of the late 20th and early 21st Centuries.

The underpaid: it sounds like a whining complaint until you ask around if it's common. Unfortunately it is common. 40-somethings are probably first (I can't cite stats, just have a hunch at this point), followed by 50-somethings and then 30-somethings. See, the reason the 60-somethings don't end up in this category much or most of the time is that they CAN file a lawsuit on age discrimination and have it heard in court easier than someone who is 42. Even those who are in their late-40s have a better chance of getting an attorney to represent them in an age-based lawsuit than someone in their early 40s. If this holds to be true --- and I suspect that plenty of people who are even at the tail of the Boomer generation would find this happens to them --- then this "underpaid" category is not simply an opinion with some people, but an undiagnosed problem within the U.S. economy.

But this leads back to the age discrimination situation for Generation-X. We may be able to find an attorney who wants to represent us in such a trial, but that attorney had better find some evidence of the discriminatory practices. I assure you that it's not an easily tracked situation at this point in time --- probably because the companies who are practicing this don't want such statistics entered at all into their databases IF they have a database with age-related information about their hiring/firing practices under the age of 50. Gen-X'ers, ages 45 and down to Gen-Y, would love it IF those statistics were made available because we could prove what appears to be a factor already: Gen-X suffers from age-related, but LEGAL, discrimination. And that's just a shame.

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