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Oregon lawmakers to tackle age discrimination in workplace

KTVZ file

By Eric Tegethoff, Oregon News Service

SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Creating an age-discrimination task force will be a priority during the Oregon Legislature's short session next month.

The discussion on how to address the issue started in the 2019 session, after a 2018 AARP survey found three in five older workers in the state have seen or experienced age discrimination. According to the Oregon Bureau of Labor Industries, more than 2,500 age discrimination claims have been filed with the agency in the past decade.

AARP Oregon State Director Ruby Haughton-Pitts said older workers are a valuable part of the labor force, especially with the state's historically low unemployment numbers.

"How can we have a broad enough discussion that actually creates a viable workforce for the future in our state," she said, "and doesn't X people out just because you see when they graduated from college or high school or whatever, but says, 'This person has good skills; I need to take a look at them.' "

Haughton-Pitts said age discrimination cases are much harder to prove than other types of bias. People 65 and older make up the fastest-growing age group in the workforce.

She cited a few of the conversations she's had with folks who have felt discrimination firsthand, from a person who was told they couldn't do a job because it requires new technology to a 65-year-old woman who was asked why she didn't retire.

"She saw no reason why she should retire. She was happy in her job; she was doing well," Haughton-Pitts said. "And so, I think we're not realizing that people are living to be into their 80s, 90s and 100s -- and in order to live a fulfilling life, people need to work."

A bipartisan effort to address this issue also is taking place at the federal level. The U.S. House is scheduled to vote Wednesday on the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act. HR 1230 would restore the age discrimination law to the way it was before a 2009 Supreme Court decision weakened it.

The 2020 legislative session begins on Monday, Feb. 3.

The AARP Oregon survey is online at


KTVZ news sources



  1. More wasted time. There are already plenty of laws pertaining to discrimination of all sorts,
    and most of them are basically worthless unless someone openly discriminates and it can be proven, because people know how to work around the system and they are free to choose who they want to hire. Discrimination is a favorite target for politicians because it’s easy. They don’t have to really accomplish anything, they just need to make people think they are actually doing something productive…. The clowns in Salem just do whatever they can to keep their names in the news, even though most will accomplish absolutely nothing.

      1. No, not really. I know that it happens, just like discrimination against someone because of their skin color, but the reality is, there are ways for employers to discriminate and get away with it. There have been laws against many forms of discrimination for years and the problem still exists, so additional laws aren’t going to change anything…
        The problem I have with adding laws on top of laws is that at some point it becomes counterproductive. The laws put into place to help stop racial discrimination have now basically just moved the discrimination from one group of people to another, and in some cases have completely removed equality for all, in favor of special treatment for some groups. I don’t agree with discrimination against anyone but I also don’t think it is the Governments place to essentially dictate who an employer has to hire, or how many people from a particular group just because their skin is a particular color, they are from a certain age group, or because they are a member of one of the alphabet groups.

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