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Age discrimination has a twofold negative effect on older workers. The tangible effect is loss of a job or limited employment opportunities. Not only is it harder for an older worker to keep a job, it becomes harder for an older worker to find a new job. (Economic realities often dictate that early retirees may have to supplement their pensions before they turn 65 and collect their full Social Security benefits.) The psychological effect is that older workers become frustrated by their situation. If they are working, this could affect their productivity, which could feed the stereotypes about older workers. If they are looking for work, they may simply give up, believing that they are unemployable.

Individuals who think they are victims of age discrimination can turn to the local office of the EEOC for assistance. The EEOC will provide information about how to file charges at the state and federal levels. It is also useful to contact the state office of civil rights.

Older workers have a strong ally and resource in the form of AARP (formerly known as the American Association of Retired Persons). Founded in 1958, AARP had 35 million members across the country in 2001. AARP acts as an information clearinghouse for legislation and other materials, and it also serves as a powerful lobbying force at the federal and state level. Through its lobbying network, AARP seeks to get Congress to enact new laws, enforce existing laws, and revise flawed legislation. AARP is headquartered in Washington, D.C., but it has regional offices to serve at the local level. Its leadership works actively to combat all discrimination.


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