Spanberger Votes to Pass Bipartisan Bill to Protect Older Adults in the Central Virginia Workforce, Combat Age Discrimination

The Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act Would Restore Protections for Older Americans Experiencing Workplace Discrimination

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger today voted to advance a bipartisan bill that would strengthen protections against workplace discrimination—including for Central Virginians with age discrimination complaints.

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), older workers are more likely to face long-term unemployment following the loss of their jobs. Additionally, data shows that complaints of age discrimination in employment decisions are rising.

Spanberger—a cosponsor of the bipartisan legislation—joined Democrats and Republicans in advancing the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act (POWADA), which would restore workplace protections that were weakened by the Supreme Court’s 2009 decision pertaining to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). This decision has required that plaintiffs seeking to prove age discrimination under the ADEA need to prove that age discrimination was the sole reason for termination, rather than just one factor. This decision has made it more difficult for older workers to prove cases of discrimination and ultimately succeed in court.

“Following the 2008 financial crisis, we saw more baby boomers remain in the workforce for longer periods of time before retirement. And to exacerbate the ripple effects of the Great Recession, these hardworking Americans are now facing age discrimination in hiring and firing decisions,” said Spanberger. “Today, I joined my Republican and Democratic colleagues in advancing a bill that would prevent more older adults from experiencing the detrimental effects of long-term unemployment. I’d like to thank fellow Virginian Congressman Scott for leading this commonsense step, which would simply reestablish a standard that was already in place for several decades. At a time of increased employment among older Americans, I urge my colleagues in the U.S. Senate to take up this bipartisan bill for a vote.”

If enacted, POWADA would mark a return to the pre-2009 legal threshold for age discrimination claims—to include mixed-motive claims. As a result, the bill would require that age is only one of the factors in a plaintiff’s lawsuit following termination—not the sole factor.

Specifically, the bill would amend four laws to make sure all victims of discrimination—including older workers—can have their claims fairly adjudicated. POWADA would amend the ADEA, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Rehabilitation Act to initiate the return to a pre-2009 threshold of discrimination evidence.

POWADA is led by U.S. Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA-03). A companion version of the legislation is led in the U.S. Senate by U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Bob Casey (D-PA), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Patrick Leahy (D-VT).

The bipartisan bill is endorsed by AARP, AFSCME, NEA, ACLU, and the National Council on Aging.

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