The editorial grump: Does anyone hire people over 50 anymore?

I know the law says employers cannot discriminate against people due to their age. However, in my personal experience over and over in the 6 years since I turned 50, what I have seen would virulently contradict this. I love the fact that I look at least 10 years younger than I actually am. I work hard to keep too much job history off my resume and try not to talk about anything I did, ‘back in the old days.‘

But… Sooner or later the employer signs you up for medical insurance or files IRS paperwork with your birth date, then they know. This has happened to me on more than 5 occasions. I have been laid off with no complaint of my performance, no excuse other than, “It wasn’t a good fit.” Nothing to take with me about how I could do better the next time. There wasn’t something I could improve because, in my opinion, the problem is I cannot change my age.

Once again, they never said that. They can’t without being sued, so they don’t. In one case, I started asking questions and went to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). I explained how my daughter visited me and had commented how young everyone was in the office. Everyone seemed to be under 30. EEOC started an investigation. They learned it was true and the hiring practices were allowing this. The company was in trouble and their lawyer realized it. They immediate put out a hiring opportunity for someone in a similar role to the one I had. They hired someone who was 2 years older than me to keep from being sued by the government. I only wish I could have kept tabs to see if that person lasted more than the 6 month statute of limitations for the investigation. Somehow I doubt it.

Wash, rinse, repeat says the shampoo bottle and so it is with jobs. This is an “at will” state, so employers do not have to give  you a reason you are being dismissed. They open the door and here comes the boot. You have learned only that no matter how hard you try, they don’t give a damn.

This is not the world of my parents. My father was kept on at the same company for 38 years. My past five years there have been 17 days, 13 days, 19 days and one was only 7 days. It is getting difficult to trust employers. Some don’t even get to the point they invite you for an interview. If you have a lot of experience, no dice. I have a group in intensive job search techniques at Worksource, no surprise we’re all over 50.

So what will all of you in the next generation do with your parents who have no money to retire on because we keep having to dip into our savings to live on in our 50’s? Are you going to let us live with you? Or will you just pass laws to euthanize us? With the direction Congress is going to make sure people who can’t make ends meet don’t have food stamps, unemployment or other social safety net money, I sure wouldn’t be surprised if they proposed laws to euthanize old folks. I am expecting next they’ll say let grandma eat dog food, it’s good for her. Well, this feisty not-that-old lady is tired of those rich people who make up all the fake reasons not to employ good, experienced people because they want to be cheap.

To all of them, and the others that laid me off, I’m sure the bird flying in my yard isn’t in the Audubon book. I hope your hump day camel leaves you with fleas. Remember, I’ll probably die first and I hope to have the chance to come back to haunt you.


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