Forced To Retire "To Promote ‘Diversity and Intergenerational Fairness’”

All surveys and studies point to the plight of older workers – they can’t afford to retire, and at the same time they suffer age discrimination in hiring and in the workplace.

BenefitsPro notes that “It’s getting tougher for older workers, with many finding that they can’t retire—or retire as fully—as they might want to, thanks to inadequate retirement savings, lack of pensions or high levels of debt thanks to medical bills, student loans or other financial obligations.”

At the same time “age discrimination by employers is common both for jobseekers and workers trying to stay in the workplace.”

BenefitsPro cites an AARP survey which found that “more than nine in 10 older workers [over 45] see age discrimination as common,” and that “61 percent of respondents say they’ve personally seen or experienced it, with women more likely to have been witness to it or in the crosshairs themselves.”

In light of this, it comes as somewhat disturbing that, as reported in the UK Telegraph, “[a]n Oxford University professor was told he must retire to promote ‘diversity and intergenerational fairness.’”   A specialist in Shakespeare, Elizabethan and Jacobean literature and poetry, he said that he wanted to continue working but was told to “step down” because he was 67.

As the Telegraph reported, the college said that his retirement “was to ‘safeguard the high standards’ of the university as well as for ‘inter-generational fairness’ and to ‘refresh the workforce.’ ‘Succession planning’ and ‘diversity’ were also used to justify the move, an employment tribunal heard.”

I wonder how many great older professors and other older workers are lost in order to “refresh the workforce.”


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Richard Cohen

Richard B. Cohen is a partner in the New York City office of FisherBroyles, LLP, a national law firm. Richard Cohen has litigated and arbitrated complex corporate, commercial and employment disputes for more than 35 years, and is a trusted advisor to business owners and in-house counsel both in the United States and internationally. His clients have included Fortune 100 companies, domestic and foreign commercial and investment banks, Pacific-rim corporations and real estate development companies, as well as start-up businesses throughout the United States. Email Richard at [email protected]