A recent article by the New York Times puts in focus the age prejudice that people over 50 face within a workplace or when seeking employment. One of the highlighted stories was that of a former Apple engineer who got rejected for a position at Apple's Genius Bar.

John Kullmann Scheinberg, referred to in the NY Times article as JK Scheinberg, started working under Apple as a product development director in 1987. In later years, Apple had him work on several projects as a senior engineer. From the years 2000 to 2008, Scheinberg was assigned to the Intel OS X kernel development in which he led the effort of moving Mac OS X to the Intel Platform.

"Yes I'm the engineer that started the Marklar secret project moving Mac OS X to the Intel Platform," Scheinberg specifies in his LinkedIn page.

Scheinberg retired in 2008 and thereafter, launched a couple of startup companies. However, restless from his retirement, the 54-year-old applied for a position at an Apple Genius Bar, in which majority of interviewees are half his age.

"On the way out, all three of the interviewers singled me out and said, 'We'll be in touch,'" says Scheinberg. "I never heard back."

But while the Age Discrimination in Employment Act prohibits employment discrimination based on age, a 2013 AARP study reveals that 64 percent of older workers, 45 to 74 years old, claim to have either seen and/or experienced age discrimination in their workplaces. Moreover, one in five older job applicants believe that they didn't get hired due to their age.

The article's author, Ashton Applewhite, describes ageism as "a dumb and destructive obsession with youth so extreme that experience has become a liability." Applewhite underscores that older workers can handle stress well, are reliable, commit less mistakes and are less likely to injure themselves. These are supported by data gathered by the AARP.

Furthermore, a more recent AARP study, titled "The Long Road Back: Struggling to Find Work after Unemployment," shows that older people who lost their long-term job have a harder time finding new long-term jobs and are likely to leave the workforce altogether. And even if they do find new jobs, half of them get paid less than what they were making from their previous job. The upside is that the majority are provided with better working conditions.

It is, however, important to note that while more than 50 percent of older people see age as a hindrance for finding a job, they also voted for the lack of job availability, at 71 percent, as the biggest barrier on why they can't find employment.

Photo: Martin Pittaya | Flickr 

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