Discrimination against older workers is out there, and none of us will ever know (for the most part), whether we were discriminated against because of our age.
During my many years on this planet (60), I've never given any thought to ageism. But, years ago, I couldn't understand why I was having so much trouble finding work...including temporary work. During my entire lifetime, I have had no use for recists and bigots, so the issue of ageism never crossed my mind.
Then one day, I read an article in the local newspaper about the subject of ageism. It said that discrimination against older workers was the nember one complaint at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). And, the article went on to say that complaints were rising at a rate of 15% per year over the past three years. At this timne, I was over 50 years of age, and after I read this article, I started to pay more attention to the subject of ageism. And, that's because I had to find a better paying job as well.
A few months later, IU read another article that came over the Internet, and was written by a writer at a business magazine. It gave some frightening numbers, with respect to discrimination against older workers. It said that a survey was conducted by an employment agency, who specializes in recruiting and placing executive personnel. Their survey showed, that an encredible 88% of those over 40 who responded, felt they had been discriminated against when it came to getting a job! And, a chilling 92% of those who already had a job...felt they had been discrimninated against, when they were up for promotion! The question was asked in the article, "Could boomers be discriminating against other boomers?"
Anyway you slice it, these are terrible numbers! So, after I saw these numbers, I sat up and took notice! After I read the two articles, I began to think back, as to how ageism could have been one of my problems in myu job search. Over the past decade, I have been laid off from SIX jobs...all for legitimate reasons like companies closing; defense cuts; the economy and so forthe. I have never been let go because of poor attendance or an attitude problem. Over the years, I've just had my share of bad luch!
My first job lay-off came, when I worked for an engineering company, where I had worked for over ten years. This company also moved out of town and eventually eaten by a bigger fish. This lay-off happened when I was in my late forties. After working several months as a temporary employee, I got a job, which lasted about four years, before the company closed...and yet another lay-off! It was about this time that I really started having trouble...not only finding a regular job, but getting temporary assignments as well. This period of time was very difficult for me.
After I lost my third job, and like many others, I had to work as a temporary employee, until something permanent came along. But, what will always amaze me, is the fact that I had to sign up with 24 temporary agencies...that's right...24 temporary agencies to get enough work to survive! As I said earlier, I didn't give ageism a thought, but after reading the two articles, I had to wake up and smell the coffee and get my head out of the sand!
Of the 24 agencies I had signed up with, only 12 of them ever called me for work, and those assignments were only for a few days...never any long-term assignments. And, never did I get any Temp-to-hire jobs either. The sign up dates for most of these agencies had gone back three to five years...and NOTHING...NO CALLS! Even if I called in available every week, I GOT NO CALLS!
After the 9/11 crisis, is when things really got bad for me, with the economy almost falling apart! At that miserable time, I had to start living off credit cards to pay the rent; buy groceries; buy gas, etc. I called the agencies twice a week, to get on the "available work list as my life headed dwonhill fast! Being as naive as I was at that time, could it be true that people would discriminate against me and others? Later, I would find this to be true, as this horror story would unfold?
One day in October, I was called by a temp agency to go to work at a printing company, which was to be a three day assignment. I took it because there was nothing else. This is where I got the answer to the possibility about ageism, and how it affected me, etc. The answer came in about three months when this assignment was finally over.
The three days was to have ended on a Friday afternoon, and the supervisor came to me and asked if I could come back the next week, and I said yes. They had me all over the production floor, helping other regular employees. The following Friday came along and the same thing happened...I was asked to come in the following week.
This went on for THREE MONTHS...as I was asked to come back week after week. The job started in the middle of October and ended in the middle of January. I worked the day shift; the swing shift; overtime as needed; on week-ends; and came in at 3:00 in the morning to get out special hot orders for the company, etc. So,k I did everything they asked me to do. This job was a temp-to-hire position, meaning that after a certain period of time working there (usually 60 days), I would be eligible to be hired on, and I was happy about that.
So, after three months of being called back to the company, my work record would speak for itself, which was very good with perfect attendance, etc. As it turned out, when this job was over, I could either get hired on as a regular employee by the company, or there would be another assignment waiting for me by the temp agency. But, it was not to be! After the assignment was over in January, this is where I can really point the finger to ageism! I was NOT hired on by the company, despite my great record as a temp and perfect attendance for over three months. (They hired somebody off the streets)
After the printing company job, I got another assignment elsewhere. But, just to do a little experiment on the subject of ageism, and to satisfy myself, I called the temporary agency, who sent me to the printing company. I called in available every week, for about three months...AND I NEVER HEARD FROM THE AGENCY AGAIN!
I'll give you a example of a scenario that may happen, at a temporary employment agency. Three people call in available for work...and all are qualified to do the job. One person is 25 years old; another is 35 years old; and the third person is 55 years old. Who do you think is going to get the job? I can assure you that it's not going to be the 55 year old! I'm pretty certain of that! So, why did I get the job at the printing company? Because the job was supposed to be for only three days, and there was probably nobody else around they could send right away...so they sent me! (it's called "left-overs")
FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE, I KNEW THAT AGEISM PLAYED A PART IN MY DOWNFALL!
Because of so many job lay-offs, I had worked as a temporary employee longer than I would have liked. And, as I thought back at some of the incidents that happened during this long period of time, at the companies, as well as at the temp agencies, I could tell that ageism played a part, and I would never know by whom; where, and I would never be able to do anything it!
Because of my experiences, I prepared about a 30 page booklet about my work history, that went back about a decade. In the booklet, I talked about how the temporary industry has grown, and the government has to be more watchful as to what's going on. I hand-carried the booklet to the EEOC downtown,k and guess what? I never heard from the EEOC concerning the matter!
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A few years ago, I saw an interview on television with three of the writers of the popular M.A.S.H. series of the 1970's. The show was quite popular and ran for over ten years. In the interview, the writer's said they would not put down (on their resumes), the fact tha they were writers on the M.A.S.H. series, because, in doing so, would date them! Isn't that terrible? At the time of the interview, these writers were all in their early 50's. Do these writers think that leaving off the credit from their resumes was going to help them get another job? Make them look younger? That's silly!
Bigotry in this country is doing well and fine, in my view, and there's not much any of us can do about it! If I were a writer on a popular series, and was in my early fifties, I would flip-off these bigots and find something else to do with my life!
Age discrimination is this country, is a big black eye for America! In other countries, the elderly are respected and revered. In this country, many of the elderly are called names; put out to pasture and forgotten and is a shame! In many cases, not even their own kids want them, because they're a burden, which is appalling! And, sadly the numbers on senior abuse continues to rise, which is another black eye for America! It's a shame that bigots exist anywhere in America, and especially in the work place, where it is important for all of us to make a living!