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Senate Democrats Intend to Ease Employee Burden to Prove Age Discrimination

Iowa Senator Tom Harkin backs the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act.

Iowa Senator Tom Harkin backs the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act.

Senate Democrats are backing a bill intended to ease the burden of proof in required of employees and job seekers filing age discrimination cases.

The Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act, introduced yesterday by three Democratic congressional committee chairman, is a reaction to a 5-4 ruling last June by the Supreme Court that shifted the burden of proof in age discrimination cases from employers to employees, said the New York Times.

“Previously, if an employee could prove that age was a factor in an adverse employment decision, like a demotion or a layoff, the employer then had to show that it had acted for a valid reason other than age discrimination,” the New York Times said.

Democrats from both the Senate and House of Representatives believe the Supreme Court ruling came at a bad time with over 2 million workers over 55 on unemployment insurance and facing longer than usual job searches.

“This extremely high burden really undermines workers’ ability to hold employers accountable,” said Senator Tom Harkin, Democrat of Iowa and chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

The bill is backed by the AARP and opposed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Business and employment advocates share their commentary on the bill in the New York Times Room for Debate forum.

(Image by Tom Vilsack via Flickr CC 3.0)

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