Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Bob Casey (D-PA), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act (POWADA). Enacting POWADA would restore critical protections in the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and make it easier for employees to prove when they are a victim of age discrimination in the workplace.
In 2009, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Gross v. FBL Financial Services weakened the ADEA by imposing a significantly higher burden of proof on workers alleging age discrimination than is required of workers alleging other forms of workplace discrimination. As a result, workers that allege age discrimination must meet an undue legal burden not faced by workers alleging discrimination based on race, sex, national origin, or religion.
“Older employees bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the workplace. Individuals who are willing and able to remain in the workforce longer can also improve their retirement security for their golden years. We should do all we can to ensure that these employees are not faced with age-related bias while doing their jobs,” said Senator Collins. “I encourage our colleagues to support this bipartisan legislation, which would help to end workplace discrimination for seniors throughout the country.”
“The introduction of this bill is a crucial step to strengthening the law and restoring fairness for older workers who experience age discrimination,” said Nancy LeaMond, AARP Executive Vice President and Chief Advocacy & Engagement Officer. “It sends a clear message that discrimination in the workplace – against older workers or others – is never acceptable.
In 2017, the Senate Aging Committee released a report titled, “America’s Aging Workforce: Opportunities and Challenges,” which highlighted the historic number of Americans who are working past the age of 55 and the need for legislation to protect such workers from age discrimination. Senator Collins is a member of the Aging Committee and the former Chairman.