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Aging Workforce, Economic Crisis Create Spike in Age Discrimination Cases

The current economic crisis is reshaping the business world in many ways--and one is an increasingly graying workforce. Many workers are deferring retirement because their retirement funds shrank in the stock market meltdown. The end result of an older workforce may well be an escalation in age discrimination complaints--a trend already evident as the Baby Boomers, now in their 50s and 60s, claim they are disproportionately targeted for layoffs. (For analysis of the latest Supreme Court decision affecting Age Discrimination in Employment (ADEA) lawsuits, see "Motivation Action.")

In February, Watson Wyatt surveyed more than 2,200 active employees to gauge the effect of the economic crisis on Americans' retirement planning. They found that 50 percent of workers age 50 and over now plan to work past age 65. Fifty-four percent of workers aged 50 to 64 who plan to postpone retirement say they will work at least three years longer than expected, and three-quarters of that age group cited the decline in their 401(k) plans as the key reason they will defer retirement.

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Mary Swanton

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