Older Workers

June, 2015


According to a new AARP study released in April, 2015, workers who are age 50 or older are more engaged in their jobs than younger employees, while employment causes only minimal increases in labor costs.

However, companies are also under scrutiny for advertising jobs with language that suggests that only younger people need apply. For example, companies that advertise for “digital natives” are subject to liability for age discrimination lawsuits since the term has been referenced as code for “young worker,” according to a May, 2015 Fortune magazine article. In May, 2015, a 64-year old engineer filed an age-discrimination lawsuit against Google in federal court, seeking to form a class action of workers age 40 and over who allege they were denied a chance to work at the tech company because of their age.

According to a January, 2015 research report, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts that by 2016, 1/3 of the U.S. labor force will be in the 50-plus age category, compared with 27% in 2007. The AARP study projects that by 2022, that figure will jump to 35.4%. Reasons cited include improved longevity among older Americans and an increase in retirement age.

According to the AARP study, “The incremental costs of hiring and retaining more older workers are minimal and that most employers will find that the value of older workers far exceeds these incremental costs.”


Effective October 1, 2015, a new law will prohibit public and private employers from requiring access to an employee’s or job applicant’s personal on-line accounts. An employer will be prohibited from requesting or requiring an employee or job applicant to provide the employer with a user name, password or any other way to access the employee’s or applicant’s personal on-line account or invite or accept an invitation from the employer to join a group associated with such an account.

Further, employers are prohibited from refusing to hire, discharging, disciplining, discriminating or retaliating against such individuals for refusing to provide user names or passwords.

The law does provide exceptions for employer investigations about an employee’s or applicant’s online account to ensure compliance with state or federal laws, regulatory requirements, or to investigate work-related employee misconduct or transfer of the employer’s proprietary or confidential information. However, the law does not require the employee or applicant to disclose the user name and password for accessing the personal online account.

The law does not provide for a private right of action to file suit for violations. Enforcement is through the Department of Labor for civil fines of up to $500 for the first violation and $1,000 for each subsequent violation.

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