Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Fighting Age Discrimination Against Educators

February 28, 2012 by twalker  
Filed under Featured News, Top Stories

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By John Rosales

Across the United States, veteran educators are facing a growing problem of age  discrimination.

Last year, Tempe Elementary School District No. 3 in Tucson, Arizona, discriminated against employees on the basis of age when it applied an early retirement incentive plan which granted greater economic benefits to younger employees based upon their age.

In North Carolina, a public school teacher was denied a promotion to assistant principal because of her age. She eventually won a $25,000 settlement after a lawsuit was filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

In 2009, EEOC filed an amicus brief in a case from Oklahoma City, successfully arguing that the trial court was wrong to dismiss a discrimination lawsuit by an older educator who had been demoted because of her age.

The National Education Association denounces blatant age discrimination as more and more veteran educators are targeted for dismissal by school superintendents and administrators. In many cases, school officials use the guise of “improvement plans” to harass veteran educators without taking into account the countless contributions they have made to public education.

Educators who have been discriminated against because of their age can find solace and legal protection in the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), which protects teachers age 40 and over against age discrimination. Under this act, age may not be the sole factor when a school district terminates the employment of a teacher. If a teacher charges a school district with age discrimination, the school district has the burden to show that some factor other than age influenced its decision.

This law, administered by EEOC, helps to protect this group of educators who either apply for a position or are already employed. In accordance with ADEA, it is unlawful to discriminate against a person because of his/her age with respect to any term, condition, or privilege of employment. This includes, but is not limited to, hiring, firing, promotion, layoff, compensation, benefits, job assignments and training. The Older Workers Benefit Protections Act amended several sections of the ADEA.

In Tucson, a lawsuit by EEOC against Tempe Elementary School District alleges that the school district maintained an early retirement incentive plan that was unlawful. Specifically, the EEOC charges that the school district’s plan is discriminatory because it grants more favorable benefits to younger employees based on their age. Under the school district’s retirement plan, employees are reimbursed for accumulated leave based on their age at retirement, with those retiring at a younger age being treated more favorably than those who retire after age 60.

“Early retirement incentive plans which discriminate on their face based upon age are illegal and need to be changed,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill. “People in their ‘60s should not be penalized merely because they want to continue working.”

Rayford Irvin, district director of EEOC’s Phoenix district office, said in a statement that “with more people working longer and delaying retirement, we will actively protect the rights of people over 40 to be free from this type of discrimination.”

The EEOC filed the lawsuit after exhausting its conciliation efforts to reach a voluntary pre-litigation settlement. The agency is seeking monetary relief including the amount of money a retiree should have received but for the discrimination with prejudgment interest. The commission is also seeking an injunction prohibiting future discrimination to prevent the school district from engaging in further practices that discriminate on the basis of age.

The main body of employment discrimination laws consists of federal and state statutes. Some state constitutions may provide additional protection when the employer is a governmental body or the government has taken significant steps to foster the discriminatory practice of the employer.

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If you have been subjected to improper treatment at your school based on your age, be sure to keep detailed records to document all of the disparate treatment. Read more about age discrimination laws.

Comments

11 Responses to “Fighting Age Discrimination Against Educators”
  1. Charlotte Holtry says:

    I am a substitute teacher in Dorchester County District 2 in SC. My district refuses “Smart Board” training for their substitutes. I do not understand why, if a substitute wants to better herself by getting training in this area, that it is refused.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  2. Laura Bellinger says:

    I have just been age discriminated against. I’m 51. Many interviews, but instead they hired a young inexperienced educator. I don’t see how it can possibly be fought. They can always use a different excuse.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  3. erin says:

    I’m 35 years old, with 13 years of teaching experience and a master’s degree. I’m at the top of the salary schedule. I taught at one school for 3 years with great success, and then right before I acheived “professional status” (ie, administration would have to give an actual reason for letting me go), I was “not re-hired.” This happened right after the administrator in charge of the budget for my department was asked to slash said budget. Unsurprisingly, the teacher hired to replace me is 23, right out of college. I interviewed for a new position and they really seemed to like me. I didn’t get the job. I recently found out that they hired – you guessed it – a girl right out of college. There’s no way to prove age discrimination like this. In any case, it doesn’t have much to do with age – it’s all about money. Does experience matter for nothing?

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  4. Nancy says:

    I teach Elementary Visual Art in two schools and am close to 60. I teach almost 800 students a week. I work most days with little planning time. This was not a problem until accountability requirements were increased. I am required to provide evidence of progress for each class and each student. With this number of students, I basically work all day on my feet and then work for many hours after school at my computer often into the night. As the oldest, I am the only Visual Art teacher in my district who has anything close to this work load. In addition I have three documented and qualifying disability issues which are exacerbated by this work load. I have to work and cannot retire.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  5. DR. EDWARD SIEGEL says:

    Also article should be entitled “Fighting Age Discrimination B Y ‘Educators’”!!!:

    In supposedly liberal Seattle in the supposedly liberal state of Washington at the supposedly liberal University of Washington the campus police as policy openly discriminate against elderly even former professors.
    Former(at 70) but still active scientists like myself(a physicist), having moved here for my wife’s health issues (she got no decent treatment whatsoever from the much vaunted but greatly disappointing University of Washington medical center)have been forbidden from attending any seminars and colloquia, (or even contacting any faculty by any means whatsoever) in any departments whatsoever under penalty of arrest. (And I was starting to do joint research with several professors in several departments and have many books and much property on UW campus). This is in direct violation of all federal funding agency federal laws. What one sees is the sociological-dysfunctionality of ageism in their FEAR, FEAR of new visitors with new ideas that come from older visitors since much of their public posture(this “STEM” man tra) is media-hype P.R. show-biz to ensnare the young ONLY. And this ageism reinforced by their police is most especially true of departments like psychology, as well as philosophy and earth sciences, with some ageism also in physics and mathematics(the most friendly). Why I have been told by professors half my age that “it is O.K. TO ATTEND SEMINARS/COLLOQUIA, BUT YOU CAN’T ASK ANY QUESTIONS NOR MAKE ANY COMMENTS”, even when they are about my work or fields that I was(and still am) an expert in, or in some cases the father of! To attend anything on UW campus, I must actually phone the UW police chief and get his permission, and I simply refuse to be treated in such a fascist ageism manner, reinforced by all department chairs, all deans, the provost, the president, the regents, and seemingly the supposedly liberal governor.
    University of Washington is a total disappointment with rampant police enforced ageism as official policy!!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. Joy Little says:

    Many minority teachers are being evaluated by principals who do not wants blacks or hispanics teachers in a school. Since the principal or the AP becomes the sole evaluator and does not want minorities in the school, they give them unfair evaluations. A teacher can be terminated because of these bias attitudes. No teacher should be terminated because of these flaws in the evaluation process. Someone needs to stop this practice in many schools.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  7. Joy Little says:

    Many minority teachers are being evaluated by principals who do not wants blacks or hispanics teachers in a school. Since the principal or the AP becomes the sole evaluator and does not want minorities in the school, they give them unfair evaluations. A teacher can be terminated because of these bias attitudes. No teacher should be terminated because of these flaws in the evaluation process.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. Judy says:

    I am 46 years old and cannot find a teaching position in Ky. All the positions are given to young, fresh out of college kids or relatives of someone. Nepotism is rampant in school hiring. What can I do about it? How do I prove my case? Nobody will listen to me.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. cathy says:

    Looks like a lot of people have been discriminated against. I also, can join this group. With 12 years teaching experience, I moved to North Carolina. I have received only one end of year position and one interim position. I have been on over 51 interviews in five years, and the job always goes to the young college graduate, or the principals friend. I have now lost my pension and do not know were to turn. All of us are in the same position, but I have not heard anyone who can help. If the NEA would care to comment or give us some advise, then this site would be helpful. Otherwise it is just a information gathering tool. Please someone with knowledge of how to approach this illegal problem and put an end to it, step up and get working….this is outrageous!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  10. Susan says:

    After working in industry for many years in a STEM-related field, I decided I’d like to switch gears and teach. I completed the undergraduate coursework for teacher certification and then went on to earn a Master’s degree in Education. I can’t prove that I’m not getting hired because of my age but it certainly seems so. The administrator will compliment me on my resume, acknowledging how the students can benefit from that real-world experience and then tell me that they ard looking for someone that can make a long term commitment. When I check back (friends, school websites) they’ve invariably hired someone considerably younger.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  11. Teresa sweet says:

    I am 58yo. I have been a long term sub and had many interviews but keep being passed over for schools hiring younger teachers. I am told I am too high on the pay scale . Isn’t that another way of saying I’m too old! So tired of this game

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

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