One of our interviewees, George Dys, 60, a design engineer from Forestdale, RI, describes how he was laid off in the video below. He feelss bitter because he was let go 19 hours short of becoming fully vested in his former employer’s 401K.
Although I am self-employed, I have tried to follow the issues surrounding the downturn in the economy and especially unemployment. From my perspective, it appears to me that a wide range of businesses used the downturn in the economy as a reason (or excuse) to shed themselves of not only the short-term costs of wages, but more significantly the long-term costs they were facing with workers who had pension benefits due to them (or soon to be due them as in George's case). I think also, the businesses shed themselves of those employees who were a bigger liability in terms of potential health care costs to the firms, short-term and long-term. No doubt, employees over 50 were more likely to have all of these qualities which, again in my view, made them prime targets for dismissal. AND, more importantly, it is an often unstated reason why employers are not wanting to hire them now. I do not think that there was any kind of conspiracy among businesses to do this, but I do think they are aware of the reason a lot of the older workers were let go. I would hope that there are a number of studies done to help document whether my view is correct or not. I suspect that the legal profession, especially where large corporations are concerned, was utilized to dismiss these "higher cost" (for lack of a better term) employees in such a way as to not make it appear that it was age discrimination but purely a "economic decision". Any whistleblowers out there?
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