Scott, Sensenbrenner Celebrate Older Americans Month By Introducing Bipartisan Bill to Protect Older Workers

WASHINGTON – TODAY, Congressman Bobby Scott (VA-03), ranking member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, and Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (WI-05) introduced bipartisan legislation to strengthen anti-discrimination protections for older workers. The Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act is a companion to a Senate bill of the same name, introduced by Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Patrick Leahy (D-VT). Congressman Mark Takano (CA-41), ranking member of the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, and Congressman David Young (IA-03) are also co-sponsors of the House bill.

 “As we celebrate Older Americans Month, we are reminded that all Americans – regardless of their age – should be able to go to work every day knowing that they are protected from discrimination,” said Ranking Member Scott. “I am happy to have Congressman Sensenbrenner join with me in the bipartisan, bicameral effort to ensure that all victims of discrimination can have their claims adjudicated fairly.”

Age and experience should be considered assets, not liabilities. However, I regularly hear from older Wisconsinites who, despite being willing and able to be participating members of the workforce, face great obstacles in the job market,” said Rep. Sensenbrenner. “This not only hurts families but also our economy. That’s why Congressman Scott and I joined together to introduce the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act. I want to thank Congressman Scott for his leadership on this issue, and I look forward to the House considering this bipartisan and bicameral bill during the 115th Congress.”

Today, Americans are working more and longer than they ever have. When older workers lose their jobs, they are far more likely than other workers to join the ranks of the long-term unemployed. Despite older workers’ clear need for strong workplace protections from discrimination, the Supreme Court’s 2009 decision in Gross v. FBL Financial Services, Inc. weakened federal protections against age discrimination by requiring that plaintiffs seeking to prove age discrimination in employment demonstrate that age was the sole motivating factor for the employer’s adverse action.

The Gross standard is inconsistent with the mixed-motive standard of proof that Congress reaffirmed in the Civil Rights Act of 1991. The Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act would level the playing field for older workers by restoring the pre-2009 legal standards for age discrimination claims – to ensure that all victims of discrimination, including older workers, can have their claims adjudicated fairly. 

“Too many older Americans trying to get or keep their jobs continue to face the significant barrier of age discrimination,” said Joyce A. Rogers, AARP Senior Vice President for Government Affairs. “AARP strongly supports this bipartisan legislation and looks forward to continuing our work with Congress to protect the rights of older workers and others affected by job discrimination.”

"We applaud Representatives Scott and Sensenbrenner for introducing this crucial bipartisan legislation to restore meaningful civil rights protections for older workers, people with disabilities, and workers facing retaliation from their employers," said Nancy Zirkin, Executive Vice-President and Director of Public Policy for The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. "We need this legislation to stop the backsliding of workers' rights and to ensure that all have access to the full protections of the law. This bill will restore vital protections and ensure that all victims of discrimination and retaliation in this country are able to vindicate their rights."

For the full text of H.R.2650, the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act, click here.

For a fact sheet on the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act, click here.

Press Contact

Kiara Pesante, 202-226-0853 (Scott)
Nicole Tieman, 202-225-5101 (Sensenbrenner)