Sunday, August 2, 2015

Do Wrinkled, Gray-Haired Workers Still Matter?

Should older workers retire to make room for younger employees?  Is there a finite number of jobs and are older workers selfish by hanging on to employment?

Missouri discrimination protections are broad, yet older workers in Missouri are only protected against age discrimination until age 70. Missouri judges must retire at 70, regardless of how effective they are as judges.  Federal judges have jobs for life and many federal judges work well into their 80's. Most United States Supreme Court justices are over 70, certainly over 65. Ronald Reagan was president well after age 70. I am 62 years old and I feel like I may have many good years ahead. However, if I retired I suppose younger lawyers would take on the cases that I am no longer accept.

We are recently past a recession that kept many younger workers unemployed and living with parents. In places like Greece, unemployment among recent high school and college grads are more likely to be jobless than employed. What is the solution?

It seems that as I get older, I represent more older people forced out of their jobs. Companies are not loyal to workers, but I read that businesses complain that they suffer from disloyal employees. No loyalty on either side. Remember when workers retired with dignity at big parties hosted by the company after 40 years or more of service?  I do. Now lay-offs are not just for poorly performing companies, but a sign of value for the almighty stockholders. Remember when people were loyal to their jobs, not searching for a better deal or easily lured away by a better deal.

The current corporate environment is not one of loyalty on either side. Both employees and employers treat each other as expendable. However, the people who are more vulnerable, usually the older ones, are more likely to be betrayed. Instead of lavish retirement parties, older workers are forced out, given paltry "severance packages" and forced releases.

Loyalty is important in life. Loyalty fosters security and trust and thus can create satisfaction. Satisfaction is happiness. I know of a workplace where the boss was suffering financial reverses and laid off employees by memo laid on the employees' desks. One of the cut workers was a faithful employee whose breast cancer had resurfaced and would eventually kill her. What did this woman's co-workers do?  They got together and offered to cut their own hours so that the sick woman could keep her job. That is loyalty. I am fortunate.  One of those giving, caring workers works for me now. I am truly blessed. Our workers are loyal, caring and hard-working. I would do whatever I could to keep them. They are our employees and people I can trust. I know this may not be businesslike, but I love them. I am excited when their grandchildren are born into this world, their children are married and their husbands retire. I would no more put one of them out than I would leave my mother or children homeless. I know they will retire someday, we are all in our 50's and 60's.

It saddens me when I am contacted by a hard-working older person whose company has "put him or her out to pasture."  There is such a sense of betrayal that some can never overcome. Sure, young people need jobs. I believe in mentoring young lawyers. We throw enterprising newer lawyers business and enlist the ones we trust to work with us on cases. There is room for all.

In societies where there are many generations in households, the elders are treated with more respect than sometimes happens here. I sure am glad that there are keen, wise, older people, like Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, protecting all of us. Thank goodness for people like the Pope and elder statesmen who show us the way with their wisdom. I bet Justice Ginsberg is not a whizz on an iPhone and she may enlist her law clerks in researching the law on the Internet. We shouldn't throw out the baby, or the old woman, with the bath water.  There are gifts that all generations can bestow on society.

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