I-Team: ‘How can I pay my bills?’ Older workers say potential employers disqualifying them due to age

I-Team

Law says ageism claims begin at 40

HENDERSON, Nev. (KLAS) — As the economy shows signs of rebounding, tens of thousands of Southern Nevadans remain out of work, and those who are on the older end of the workforce say they are having difficulty getting hired.

“It’s hard. Nothing’s come up,” Luceanne Taufa, 62, of Henderson, told the I-Team.

Like so many across the valley, Taufa lost her job at the start of the pandemic in March 2020. She worked as a cashier at the Fiesta Henderson for 18 years, but the casino has not reopened.

Taufa said she is having a hard time finding a job – estimating she has applied to nearly two dozen positions so far.

“Is it for my age?” she said. “Maybe they hire younger people, but I do the same thing like other people do.”

On top of looking for a job, Taufa is caring for her husband and her two college-age children.

“I can’t sleep. How can I pay my bills?” she said.

“Post-pandemic, everyone’s feeling it, particularly marginalized groups,” Kara Jenkins, administrator of the Nevada Equal Rights Commission, said.

Federal law considers agism to begin at age 40. When it comes to looking for work and feeling like one is being excluded due to age, having proof is key, she said.

“It’s usually covert,” Jenkins said. “It’s like, ‘Well you know just right now we’re just not hiring,’ or ‘We found someone else.’ So, we look at the evidence and see who that someone else is.”

Out of the more than 400 age claims the commission has received since 2018, just four met the standard for ageism, Jenkins said. If substantiated, the majority of the ageism cases are settled out of court.

“We even get folks saying, ‘Well it can’t be anything but my age. I’m a great worker; it’s not race. It’s not anything else. It’s got to be because of my age,’” Jenkins said. “That is not enough. We need the evidence.”

Taufa said she is not giving up. She cannot afford to.

“I will find a job,” she said. “It doesn’t matter, I’m 62. They didn’t call me back, but I will find [one].”

In a letter to employees, Station Casinos, which owns Fiesta Henderson, said Nevada’s new right-to-return favors part-time workers over full-time workers and makes it harder for casinos that are closed to reopen.

If you believe is playing a role in trouble you may be having finding a job, you can file a complaint online here.

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