40 is not the new over the hill
High-tech is a young person's industry, with the impression that few employees are over the age of 40. This mistaken impression has gained ground in the industry over the years and become the recruitment policy at many companies. As a consequence, employees over 40 have become considered as worn out, with lower productivity and higher cost than their younger peers.
Older employees are considered by employees as lacking innovation and less capable of adapting. Some companies that are hiring do not perceive the working potential of a 25-year old to be the same as a 40-year old.
Union of High-Tech Employees in Israel chairman Bezalel Greenberg says, "The problem isn't in explaining why it is worthwhile hiring employees of a certain age, but in that there are companies that are violating the Equality of Opportunity in Employment Law (5744-1988), and use age-based criteria for jobs."
Greenberg adds, "Let's assume that two candidates are competing for a certain job, and both are prepared to accept the same salary and employer's terms, and both are equally qualified for the job, why not invite for an interview the older applicant as well? It's possible to go a step further. Let's assume that the older applicant is more experienced and skilled than the younger applicant, and is willing to work at the same terms, should the fact of age an obstacle in applying for the job, even if he is more skilled?"
Israel has a law - the Equality of Opportunity in Employment Law, which bans discrimination on any basis whatsoever. If you want to hire employees on the basis of age, this is age discrimination.
Greenberg says, "We're sending warnings against employees and companies that violate the labor laws, and we're notifying the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor about examples we've found that have grounds for opening a criminal investigation against violators. The Union also represents employees who have been discriminated against because of their age, and we help write individual and class-action civil suits in these cases."
The Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor, which is responsible for enforcing Israel's labor laws, has the right to decide on whether to open a criminal investigation against a company suspected of discrimination. After the evidentiary collection stage, the ministry decides whether to indict the company.
"Age discrimination results in employees, who are defined by human resources departments as older, to undergo hardships, humiliations, and struggle to reenter the labor force in their fields. We're talking about skilled employees who are prepared to invest beyond what is demanded in their places of work," says Greenberg.
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