You know all those workplace health programs where your employer gives you some kind of incentive to take a "wellness test," or join a gym with a company discount? We've been told for years that these programs are meant to encourage healthier lifestyles in and out of work and also help employers cut down on employee health costs. The Obama Administration even got into the act and endorsed the idea by overseeing the rules of such programs. All good, right?
Actually, it's not so right for everyone. It turns out a lot of American workers are uneasy and suspicious of these programs that force them to reveal what used to be private medical information. They're also crying foul at being left out of sometimes very lucrative financial incentives simply for refusing to hand over that personal information.
AARP recently took those concerns to court, suing the Obama Administration and the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission for failing to uphold anti-discrimination laws meant to protect older workers and employees with various ailments or disabilities.
But this case may be just the tip of the iceberg. AARP and a lot of trial lawyers are going to be busy with a bigger fight in the coming years as both blatant and indirect ageism starts to rear its ugly head in the workplace. And that includes the fight against using all kinds of seemingly unrelated or indirect information to discriminate against older workers.
The "older" in this case does not mean elderly either. We're talking 40-year-olds and maybe even people in their late thirties. Ask the litigants in a growing lawsuit avalanche against Silicon Valley companies. According to the research firm PayScale, the median age of an American worker is 42, but at Microsoft it's 33, Apple 31, Google 30, and Facebook just 29.
A recent Bloomberg News report documented the frantic methods many tech job applicants use to look younger, including extensive use of plastic surgery. The report also noted that Silicon Valley's 150 largest tech companies were sued 226 times for age bias from 2008 through 2015.