Grassley looks out for older Iowans

The senator from Iowa seeks better protection against workplace discrimination

U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley wants to make sure that age discrimination doesn’t compromise the ability of older Iowans to remain active in the workplace. That’s why the Iowa Republican has joined with three other members of the U.S. Senate to reintroduce and champion the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act, known as POWADA.

Grassley and Sens Bob Casey, D-Penn., Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, are urging Congress to pass this legislation to restore protections in the Age Discrimination Employment Act that were weakened by a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2009 – Gross vs. FBL Financial Services. That case involved discrimination claimed by Jack Gross, an Iowan.

According to information provided by Grassley’s office that court ruling negatively impacted older Americans “by imposing a significantly higher burden of proof on workers alleging age discrimination than is required of workers alleging other forms of workplace discrimination.”

Grassley and the other senators argue that Congress did not intend for the federal antidiscrimination legislation that led to the court case to impose the “additional burden of proof” for older workers that the court concluded that it does. They are determined to rectify this misinterpretation.

“Older Americans contribute greatly to our society and economy. They deserve the same protections as every other American,” Grassley said. “The Supreme Court case involving Iowan Jack Gross affected employment discrimination litigation across the country. It’s long past time we clarify the intent of Congress to make sure people like Jack Gross don’t face discrimination due to age.”

The corrective legislation that Grassley and his colleagues are proposing has strong support from organizations representing the interests of older Americans.

“Too many older workers have been victims of unfair age discrimination and are denied a fair shake in our justice system.” said Nancy LeaMond, AARP executive vice president and chief advocacy and engagement officer. “The time for Congress to act is now.”

The Messenger applauds Grassley for joining in this bipartisan effort to make sure that aging citizens can take legal action against workplace discrimination without encountering undue obstacles. Iowa is the state with the fourth largest proportion of its population age 65 or older. Only Florida, Pennsylvania and West Virginia have a greater percentage of older residents. That makes this issue especially pertinent here in the Hawkeye State.