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Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Open Letter to Rep. Susan Bonamici


Honorable Congresswoman Bonamici,

With an estimated 70-80 million “baby boomers” entering retirement over the next 15 years, the U.S. economy will be forced to shift the tax paying burden and dig into the pockets of people who still work, to support the growing elderly population.

The subject that I am raising here is the common practice of age discrimination in employment. There is mounting evidence that employers are laying off employees who are older, under a variety of covers, while circumventing the Civil Rights laws of this country. Note that the definition of older in this case, is workers, who are 40 year old and older. This definition comes from our legal system, as represented by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) of 1967.

This issue of marking employees for potential layoff, once they reach the age of 40, is very serious. As a principal member of PDX-TIE.ORG, an organization that was originally created for the purpose of mutually supporting employees who were laid off from Intel Corp. since 2015. I know from my own personal experience, as well as from the testimonies of many of our members, that Intel Corp. discriminated against hundreds or perhaps thousands of older employees by either laying them off, or forcing them to retire. In fact I filed an official complaint with both the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industry (BOLI) and the Federal agency in charge of enforcing fair employment practices, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). My charges are currently being investigated.

A recent article published in Pro Publica, a highly esteemed investigative journalism web site exposed many of the practices that IBM Corp. used to get rid of its older employees and either replace them with less costly younger workers, or shift their jobs overseas. The relevant Pro Publica article is entitled CUTTING ‘OLD HEADS’ AT IBM and the article content can be found at: https://features.propublica.org/ibm/ibm-age-discrimination-american-workers/

Many members of our mutual support organization, PDX-TIE.ORG, once they read the Pro Publica article, immediately found corollaries and parallels between the way in which they were treated by Intel Corp. and the various nefarious methods that Intel Corp. dealt with older employees.

Since I have dedicated the last 2-1/2 years of my life to researching the growing phenomenon of age discrimination in employment, I found that affected employees, have very little support to plead their case and seek justice, because the current system is rigged up in favor of employers. Among other things, employment attorneys refuse to take representation of age discrimination cases under a contingency fee arrangement. Consequently, there are very few such cases, brought into court. After all, older employees who lost their main source of income, following their employment termination, are in a very bad position to spend large amounts of money on attorney’s fees. My own personal experience and the testimony of many of my colleagues, support this fact.

There are many more issues regarding age discrimination in employment that I would be happy to share with you and your staff.

Note that while discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex and national origin is covered Under Title VII Protected Classes of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Pub. L. 88-352) Vol 42(2000e), age discrimination in the work place is specifically covered under the separate scope of the ADEA.

Federal (and many state laws) provide protection (at least on the books) to certain recognized Protected Classes, defined by the law as: Race, Color, Religion or creed, National origin or ancestry, Gender (sex), and Age.Yet, we find very few cases of age discrimination brought into justice due to weaknesses in application of the law, as compared with other types of discrimination in employment.

Lately, issue of equal pay and sexual harassment came to light in the news and began to wake up the public to the fact that these practices are in fact much wider spread than the public were led to believe. I contend that age discrimination in employment is much wider than many people recognize. I noticed that non of your news letters, sent to your constituency ever mentioned age discrimination in employment as an action item to be corrected via both public education and legislative action. I hope that your office will attend to this issue at the high priority that it deserves.

Let us not forget that aging is unavoidable, whether a person is black or white, male or female, gay or straight. Regardless of gender based pay equality issues, once a person find themselves out of a job, pay equality becomes moot.

Thank you for listening.

--Ron Tsur




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