Ageism: A Powerful Nemesis for Effective Workplace Discrimination Law

34 Pages Posted: 7 Nov 2018

See all articles by David Ray Papke

David Ray Papke

Marquette University - Law School

Date Written: November 2, 2018


Ageism is a powerful force in American life, and it includes not only biased actions directed against older people but also a wide range of harmful attitudes and stereotypes. Ironically, ageism even limits what law and legal institutions might accomplish in countering the growing problem of age discrimination in the workplace. This article underscores the weaknesses of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), the nation’s most important statute regarding age discrimination and also the appellate case law interpreting that statue. The article then critiques the dismissal by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) of the great majority of employees’ claims that they have suffered age discrimination. Overall, the article argues that legislators, the U.S. Supreme Court, administrative law judges, and Americans in general must fully appreciate the subtle, complex, and pervasive workings of ageism in order to successfully shape and use age discrimination law to reduce the harm being done to older employees.

Keywords: ageism, Age Discrimination in Employment Act, buyouts, discrimination in the workplace, early retirement, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Suggested Citation

Papke, David Ray, Ageism: A Powerful Nemesis for Effective Workplace Discrimination Law (November 2, 2018). Marquette Law School Legal Studies Paper No. 18-25. Available at SSRN: or

David Ray Papke (Contact Author)

Marquette University - Law School ( email )

Eckstein Hall
P.O. Box 1881
Milwaukee, WI 53201
United States

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