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Study: Older workers may have a harder time getting called back

As life expectancies increase, many members of the baby boomer generation and younger say that they plan to work well into their 60s or 70s.

For many people, they will need to keep working because there is no guaranteed pension waiting for them at a certain age. For others, better health and longer life expectancies are motivating people to stay in the workforce longer. This is especially true for people in white-collar jobs, whose responsibilities are not as physically taxing as many blue-collar manufacturing workers.

A new study, however, shows that it can be harder for many older people to change jobs once they reach a certain age. In some cases, discrimination could be playing a role.

The older you get, the less likely you are to get hired

The study, published by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, involved sending out 40,000 resumes to real job listings. The economists conducting the study made the resumes identical, except for the ages of the applicants.

The study found that the call-back rate dropped in almost every job category the older the "applicant" was. For women, the call-back rate dropped much more dramatically for applicants aged 29-31 to those aged 49-51. It then dropped even further when the applicants were aged 64-66.

Proving age discrimination in hiring is difficult

While a job listing cannot explicitly say that no one over a certain age will be considered, many employers may unfortunately consider age when choosing among qualified applicants. Proving this type of age discrimination, however, can be difficult.

One lawsuit working its way through the federal judiciary alleges that tobacco company R.J. Reynolds illegally screened for applicants by telling recruiters to consider applicants for sales positions who were only two or three years out of college and to avoid people with eight to 10 years of experience.

A federal appellate court sided with the company that the plaintiff had no right to sue because federal age discrimination law only protects people who already have jobs. Observers are waiting to see if the U.S. Supreme Court will hear the appeal.

Talk to a lawyer about your options

If you already have a job, be on the lookout for signs of age discrimination. This can include a company laying off every employee over a certain age or younger workers who are less qualified receiving promotions over older, more qualified candidates.

If you have any questions about your rights, do not hesitate to talk to an experienced lawyer before making any decisions.

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