Age Discrimination: Bah!

I’m sick of discrimination laws. Many companies make stupid, and smart, decisions hiring and firing. Lots of times, even when it’s legal, it’s not right. And lots of times, it’s more than right. In fact, there are many firings that don’t happen because of discrimination laws–especially, now with the Boomers creaking into retirement age. These people don’t like being old (who does?) and don’t want to look at the younger, fresher, harder-working co-workers poaching their jobs. John Stossel has a great article and talks about age discrimination. Guys like this are Exhibit “A”:

Discrimination lawsuits like theirs are common today. They create nasty, unintended consequences: Older workers find it more difficult to get hired since companies are reluctant to hire people who could become lawsuit age-discrimination bombs. I’m told some companies set aside $100,000 for legal fees and settlement money for every older worker who isn’t doing a good job. What a waste.

Lawyer Murray Schwartz has won millions suing companies for age discrimination. He told me, “A company shouldn’t be able to say, ‘A 36-year-old fellow would do it better than the 52-year-old fellow.'”

They just shouldn’t be allowed?

“Never. And that’s what the law says.”

The law does. But the law can be an ass, and American law contradicts itself. FBI agents must retire at 57, airline pilots by 65. But it’s illegal for ABC to fire me if my boss thinks I’m too old?

It irks me that some old guy makes money suing companies for hiring and then firing him. Pardon me, but he strikes me as an a-hole and I don’t think it’s his age that got him fired. But that’s the problem.

So companies like GM offer these elaborate buyouts for guys who have 25 or 30+ years in–they just want them off the payrolls. But here’s the problem: the employee might be great but everyone has to receive the offer and the workers don’t really believe their bosses when the boss says, we really like you stay. Really? Does the boss really have the power to keep the good worker? Maybe. So big companies end up losing good employees with marginal ones. You know what happens? The companies hire them back as consultants.

The whole thing just makes no sense. Companies should be able to hire and fire whomever they want for any reason. Yep. If a company wants to cut off it’s nose and hire only women or men or old people, fine. They, because of discrimination, will cut themselves off from good talent. Fine. It’s their right. If a football team can pick the best talent, any company should be able to create the most talented team for any reason.

No one is owed a job. Life is not fair. Anti-discrimination laws have unintended consequences. The smart, talented cream will rise to the top in a free market. They always do.

Cross-posted at MelissaClouthier.com

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