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House Passes Bipartisan Bonamici Bill to Protect Older Workers from Age Discrimination

January 15, 2020
Press Release


WASHINGTON, DC [1/15/20] – Today the House passed bipartisan legislation co-led by Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Chair of the Education and Labor Committee’s Civil Rights and Human Services Subcommittee, to protect older workers from age discrimination in the workplace.


The Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act (POWADA), which passed the House with bipartisan support, restores anti-discrimination protections under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act that were weakened by the Supreme Court’s 2009 decision in Gross v. FBL Financial Services, Inc. The decision changed the burden of proof for workers to be the sole motivating factor for the employer’s adverse action, making it much harder for workers to prove age discrimination.


Video of Bonamici speaking in support of the bill can be viewed here.


“By supporting the bipartisan Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act, we can protect the civil rights of older workers who are striving to provide for themselves and their families,” Bonamici said on the House floor. “Oregon has one of the most rapidly aging populations in the country, and I’ve heard from workers, many in the technology industry, who believe they have been dismissed or denied employment because of their age. My office has helped older workers who have filed age discrimination complaints at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, but the burden and the outcomes are very uncertain.”


According to recent data from the Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics, the percentage of retirement-age Americans in the labor force has doubled since 1985. Unfortunately, age discrimination in the workplace is still disturbingly pervasive. According to the AARP, three in five workers over the age of 45 have reported seeing or experiencing age discrimination on the job.


POWADA amends four core civil rights laws: the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the anti-retaliation provision of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, to make congressional intent clear – any unlawful discrimination in the workplace is unacceptable.