An unknown but increasing number of older American workers say they believe they are victims of age discrimination. The following five complaints, made in letters to the National Senior Citizens Law Center, are not unusual. To protect employees, the center requested that their names and companies be omitted. Position `terminated'
A 63-year-old Southerner was fired from a small business because, he was told, his position was being terminated. But he said the company had already hired a young man to assume his duties. He became the third older employee released under similar circumstances: ``Although each of us was advised that our position was being eliminated, replacements have been or are in process of being hired to carry on with many of the same responsibilities we had.''
He was told the dismissal was not related to his job performance, which ``I was advised had always been very good. And since the work to be carried out by our replacements appears very much like what we had been doing, there is just one explanation I can think of for our dismissal - age.... The information I seek is whether or not I ... have a valid case of age discrimination.'' If so, ``what steps do I take next.''
Sales force `downsized'
An Easterner: ``I am 59 years old, with 21 years' service as a sales representative'' with a large firm. ``Last April I was told that the division of the company in which I worked was `downsizing' its sales force by 30 percent.
``For reasons of reorganization of territories, I was put on an `unassigned' list, which meant that I no longer had a job.
``I am receiving full salary, and the company has promised to place me in another sales position. This has not happened. I have had many interviews with other divisions, but I have not been offered any position in any of these divisions. I feel that the major obstacle is my age and my salary level.''
Doubts about EEOC probe
A Southerner is distressed that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled his employer did not discriminate against him on the basis of age. ``As I read the determination I do not believe my charge was thoroughly investigated. No mention was made of a prior and subsequent reduction in salaried personnel, and these have a direct bearing on my charge. Taken together these reductions show a consistent pattern in which older, long-time employees are in the majority of those terminated....
``I am aware that I may still have recourse to legal action; but frankly, on a greatly diminished income, I am exceedingly apprehensive over the financial risk involved in going to court. I cannot afford to expend attorneys' fees and court costs and lose the case.''
Retirement credits refused
A 66-year-old Westerner says he is ``employed full time and it looks like I shall continue to do so until age 70, as I cannot afford the high cost of living otherwise. The company refuses to let me accumulate any more retirement points; since the law does not require them to do so. Thus ... I will be severely limited in my retirement income, having received no retirement credits during the last five years of employment, assuming I retire at age 70. (This will mean a loss of hundreds of dollars per month.)''
Dropped for `medical reasons'
A 62-year-old Midwesterner asks for ``information regarding what protection I have as a senior citizen against job discrimination.'' He says he is a college graduate with courses in criminology, has worked in two police departments, and is in good physical condition. More than a year ago he passed a written exam given by a Midwestern police force, which then called him into training.
``However, on the third day of training I was terminated for `medical reasons' even though I had passed the physical examination given by the municipality and an additional physical exam required from a private doctor. And yet I was fired for medical reasons even though no doctor had examined me during this training period....
``Could you please help me fight this injustice?''