Baby boomers are suffering from age discrimination in the workplace and job losses spurred by the 2008 financial crisis and the subsequent recession, a U.S. labor official said Wednesday.
Unemployment for people 50 and over more than doubled to 7.6 percent from 2007 to 2011, Cathy Ventrell-Monsees, senior counsel for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, said during a webinar sponsored by the National Press Foundation.
One-third of over 50s who have lost their jobs during that time have been unemployed for more than a year, she added.
In another trend affecting the economic well-being of boomers, age and gender discrimination has become a more litigated issue, she said.
The percentage of age discrimination cases filed by women jumped from 32 percent in 2007 to 45 percent in 2013, she said, adding that proving age discrimination in court is tough.
What makes it harder for boomers who believe they have been fired or not hired because of their age is some lawyers demand $5,000 to $10,000 upfront before they take a case, she said. However, lawyers specializing in this area usually will take their fee out of the money the worker obtains from a court victory or an out-of-court settlement.
The average age of individuals bringing age-discrimination cases is in the mid-50s.
She said the discrimination is especially virulent in the tech industry.
Ventrell-Monsees recalled Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg praising younger workers in general as “just plain smarter.” She added that surveys of tech staffers have shown older workers are not welcome.
“There’s no question age discrimination is a challenge for older workers,” she said.