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Is the US Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 need of the hour?
The fact that the Indian industry discards all who are above 40 is not a myth but something that's tragically true. In India, job search and ageism go hand in glove, as jobs availability declines pro-rata your increased age, which I happened to learn the hard way. Read on to learn more about this ageing discrimination existing in India which has rendered a huge talent bank lifeless.

I, LIKE many, lost my means to earn at the wrong side of forty due to economic downturn faced by many of my counterparts in the world in 2008. However, being a firm believer in the fact that actually your individuality matters more in garnering a job with your updated skill sets, knowledge and experience rather than your age; I got a rude shock that age mattered more than my 20 odd years of die-hard industry experience.

I gave many interviews overtime but my age always played out on me and am still not tired of giving them. The most unique feature of Indian Ageism in the industry is that age is directly proportionate to your designation. This can be seen on many job portals as a 18 year experience fetches you posts of GM and above in your job search and does not actually look at your real profile may it be suitable for  middle or lower management only.

In India HR is unlike their counterparts in the west i.e. completely professional and an important part of a company’s investment strategy rather its considered as a necessary evil and a cost burden  which has to be borne by the company what may rather silently. Though there is one thing universal about HR and that is their taboo about age, they see an elderly aspirant as a zombie or something dreadful rather than a must have asset. Today, it is unlikely you will hear you've been rejected because of age, since usually only the successful younger candidates get notified due to their expendable availability.

Employers today not for once look or make believe that in matters of career experience, performance, skill sets and management acumen related experience are more important than age. They all ardently believe in the fact that the young don’t care about financial remuneration and just love to work  hence they can be easily  molded or exploited as per companies policies leading to greater employee profitability. They believe that vigor and energy primarily drives the growth of a company and rest everything is secondary. This might be the real reason that quantity rather than quality drives the industry.

I consider it a myth that the most productive employees are usually people in their late twenties extending to their maximum early thirties. The older you get you are considered more of a spent force and looking for a career rather than a job and becoming less susceptible to take direction than your less rigid younger counterparts. It’s wrong to consider that older you get your output or potential slacks due to family responsibilities, other social prejudices and affiliations. It’s also wrong to consider that older employable are rigid to put in more hours of work.

There is of course a huge trained untapped mature potential if only the industry realized that a worker matures much like wine – The older it gets more fine mature and of course more expensive it gets.

The important question is, what is the cost to our economy, indeed, to our society, when the best-qualified workers are idled simply because they posses more experience? Has the government ever calculated the social cost of keeping an ageing workforce unemployable? Why management gurus and consultants are erroneously bent or stuck on their stereotyped view that people above forty are unemployable in middle or lower management and worker profiles. Why is it that employers ardently discriminate between age groups thus thwarting equal right to occupation, livelihood, equality and living as guaranteed by our constitution? Why is it that we Indians are so silent about this issue as this today is a major socio economic problem or is it that we have fallen silent as the lambs to be slaughtered?

Societies worldwide have realized this problem but surprisingly our HR Ministry is still sleeping over this now widespread problem as in India you require a job more in the forties than when young. This is because your responsibilities to family and other social obligations have increased.

The US Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 should be urgently enacted in India also. This act prohibits employment discrimination against persons over the age of 40 and was enacted to promote employment of older persons based on their ability rather than age; to prohibit arbitrary age discrimination in employment and to help employers and workers find ways of meeting problems arising from the impact of age on employment.

We should also inhibit employers gaining accees to our tax returns and other personal information by strengthening The Right to Privacy Act a little further.

In my view older workers cost more only due to performance differences. Investing in older workers is worth the investment in gold as it leads to a greater ROI because they are less likely to quit. They are more dependable than younger workers are. They are more likely to help other employees, organization, etc. in times of need. Older workers are more likely to comply with safety rules hence are less likely to experience work related injuries. They are less likely to participate in counterproductive work behavior than the younger ones. Their seemingly less aggressive attitude can be attributed to their tendency to know their way around with loads of patience and experience. They always work to compensate for any cognitive declines as their wisdom compensates in making them achieve more than their younger counterparts as their habits & skills have matured and honed overtime.

I hope we all in society at large including the government should be more outwardly modest in giving the age a thumb down where hiring is concerned. Age should not form the criteria for Indians to be hired for employment except for the armed forces only. The HR services and institutions should imbibe the trait of giving less weightage to age over skills, experience and other qualities in their courses and cultures respectively. The industry itself should expect more ageing force in both their verticals and horizontals and should come up as more exemplary trendsetters concerning hiring of people beyond forty. The job portals should remove selection by Job experience in number of years and replace it by generics such as lower, middle and senior, managements or other worker profiles and other refinement ideas.

I hope we all unanimously stand firm and united in giving the old a chance.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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