City Council Tackles Age Discrimination

Businesswoman Doing Stock Paperwork
Senior businesswoman is doing paperwork in her stock warehouse. Her husband is in the background measuring fabric.

The City Council yesterday approved a legislative package designed to combat age discrimination and provide support for older New Yorkers and tools to protect them as they remain in the workforce for longer periods of time.

In a recent national survey conducted by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) of adults older than 45, 61 percent of respondents indicated that they have seen or experienced age discrimination in the workplace, and 38 percent of these respondents indicated that such discrimination is “very common.”

In the last 15 years, the number of older New Yorkers in the workforce has steadily increased and, with the COVID-19 pandemic, age discrimination has only worsened for older Americans, who have reported targeted layoffs in recent months.

City Council Member Member Margaret Chin

“Age discrimination is a real problem that affects older New Yorkers but is frequently overlooked and is seldom reported. My package of bills will help to change this by attacking age discrimination with data-driven methods and resources,” said City Council Member Member Margaret Chin (D-Manahttan), who chairs the Council’s Committee on Aging and sponsored the legislative package.

“Our solution is threefold: requiring the Department for the Aging’s advisory council to address age discrimination, creating a Center for Older Adult Workforce Development, and mandating the city’s Commission on Human Rights to conduct a two-year study on age discrimination and issue recommendations in an annual report,” she added.

Introduction No. 1694-A, which Chin sponsored, would create the Center for Older Workforce Development, an office dedicated to combating ageism in the workplace and to developing the older workforce.

The Center would be established and placed by the mayor and led by a director, whose powers and duties include: advising and assisting the mayor in coordinating agencies involved in workforce development programs for older adults; assisting older adults in joining or re-joining the workforce; creating a centralized workforce development website that assists with career building and workforce development for older adults; and promoting the inclusion and retention of older adults in the municipal workforce.

The Center would also be required to submit an annual report to the mayor and to the city council on its activities.

Introduction No. 1693-A, Which Chin sponsored, requires the Department for the Aging (DFTA) to provide guidance and support to the Center for Older Workforce Development, as created by Introduction No. 1694-A.

This bill would also require the DFTA Advisory Council to develop recommendations on how the city can address age discrimination in the workplace and help develop the older adult workforce. The Advisory Council would be required to submit a report to the Mayor, the Speaker, and the Center for Older Workforce Development with its recommendations and findings in December 2021 and biennially thereafter.

Introduction No. 1695-A, which Chin sponsored, requires the city’s Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) to conduct a two-year study related to age discrimination in the workplace. Beginning January 2022, for a period of two years, CCHR would design and implement a variety of methods to assess the presence of age discrimination in the workplace, including workplace and employment practices, technologies, and policies.

CCHR would be required to report on the findings of its two-year study and submit the report to the Speaker on or before September 30, 2024. The report would include, among other things, a summary of the initiatives taken during this two-year study, a description of the instances of age discrimination found, and recommendations to help the city address and combat age discrimination going forward.

Introduction No. 1684-A, which City Council Member Diana Ayala (D-East Harlem, Bronx), requires the City Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) to create an anti-discrimination poster that includes age discrimination, and to provide additional age discrimination resources on its website. Through this legislation, city agencies would be required to display the poster in employee common areas.

The final bill, Introduction No. 1685-A, which Ayala also sponsored, requires all city agencies to provide age discrimination training to their employees every two years. The training would be developed by the Department of Citywide Administrative Services and the Commission on Human Rights.

“This legislation could not come at a better time: the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recently found that the fastest growing segment of the American workforce is employees aged 65 and older, as more Americans are choosing to stay in the workforce longer,” Layla Malamut, Paralegal in the Employment Law Project at the New York Legal Assistance Group, testified at a previous hearing on these bills. “Our clients have all too often described supervisors who made overt comments targeting their age, complaining that they were ‘too old’ to do their job or asking them when they planned to retire.”