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D.C. Councilman Floats Bill to Help Seniors Get Jobs

Despite the years and experiences that senior citizens possess as workers, they are sometimes the victims of age discrimination in employment, but D.C. Councilman Brandon Todd wants to change that by offering businesses tax incentives to hire them.

On Jan. 7, Todd introduced the Senior Employment Tax Credit Amendment Act of 2020, saying seniors are “often an overlooked group when employers look to hire.”

“Seniors sometimes face a disadvantage in the hiring process because employers feel that they will not be long-term team members or may not be mentally fit,” the Ward 4 council member said. “Ironically, the exact opposite is often the case. Furthermore, seniors miss job postings that are exclusively found online — where the overwhelming number of jobs are advertised in today’s day and age. As a result, I am introducing this legislation to encourage Certified Business Enterprises (CBEs) and Small Business Enterprises (SBEs) to hire senior citizens.”

The legislation defines seniors as individuals who are 65 and older. Ward 4 has one of the largest population of seniors in the District, with 10 percent of its population ages 60-69, according to the 2018 American Community Survey of the U.S. Census Bureau.

Todd said many of the seniors in his ward are eager to get to work but face obstacles based on false perceptions of competence as opposed to younger workers. He pointed out that many seniors cannot live on Social Security alone, may not qualify for that program or may just want to continue working.

“Research indicates that working at older ages can keep seniors mentally sharp, physically active and socially connected,” he said.

The bill received a referral by Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) to the Committee on Business and Economic Development. The committee chair, Kenyan McDuffie (D-Ward 5), said he hasn’t reviewed the legislation and couldn’t comment on it.

However, fellow Council member Anita Bonds (D-At Large) has come out in favor of Todd’s bill.

“The reality is that age discrimination does exist, and it often keeps far too many of our most qualified adults from joining the workforce and contributing their thoughts and talents to make our society work better for all people,” Bonds said. “That’s why [the bill] is so important, it brings some of our community’s most knowledgeable and skilled persons back to work and allows our businesses, nonprofits and other institutions to benefit from the wisdom and institutional knowledge. Most importantly, senior citizens have both the professional and lived experiences needed to grow and train the younger people who are tomorrow’s workforce.”

Louis Davis Jr., state director of AARP District of Columbia, said even though he hasn’t read Todd’s bill, it sounds like something he and his organization could possibly favor.

“Principally, AARP DC supports initiatives that create opportunities for residents 50 years and older to continue to work and thrive in the workplace,” Davis said. “We will aid and abet efforts that will help seniors achieve financial stability. I look forward to reviewing the bill in its entirety and working with Council member Todd and the D.C. Council to see that seniors gain full employment in the District.”

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