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.
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I am 56, and my muscular dystrophy has progressed the last 3 or 4 years so I fall a lot. I'm an IT professional with an MBA, so my resume was great until 3 years ago. I fell and hit my head. My Neurologist wrote a note for me to stay out of work for a week. The day I went back to work I was laid off.
I filed for disability knowing it would take 2 years to go through.
I received a call about a job I had applied for 2 years earlier and was hired. I fell at work and broke my big toe right in the joint area - bad break. I had to use Workers Comp, and right after my last doctor visit I was laid off with severance pay.
So I found another job. I was on conference calls daily and needed a headset like the other employees had, because I also have a neck and back spasm that flared up while holding a phone to my ear half the day. My manager said I needed a note from my doctor to get a headset. I brought in a note, and at the end of that day i lost my job. See a pattern here?
Between jobs I lived on severance packages and savings. I was told I would get my diaability hearing in July of this year (2014.) However, in March I received a call about a contracting job. I interviewed and was offered the job immediately. I was denied disability benefits on September 3 because apparently with my "education and experience I shouldn't have a problem finding a job." Right. Then on September 30 I fell at home and broke my foot. This was such a bad break It is still in the healing process 3 months later. My doctor told me to avoid all weight bearing on this foot, so I've been using a knee scooter at work. I'm also in a lot of pain. The first few weeks after the break I could only work 25-30 hours per week. I'm working on a high priority project, so no matter how badly I feel I've been dragging myself into work. Once I get there I'm okay, and I have built and maintained an awesome database. However upper management requests modifications to it almost daily, so I have to be there. The day before Thanksgiving I was informed my contract would be ending in January, 2015. Great timing. I lost my appetite and lost 15 lbs in one month.
If I had been granted disability benefits I would have probably broken my foot anyway, but it may have healed faster if I didn't have to work. The bone is healing crooked, so I will have a worse limp than I had before. I was previously advised by the unemployment office not to use my cane during interviews. But now I will have to use it the rest of my life because I have to be extra careful to not fall again.
So what does a 56 year old do if I can't qualify for disability and can't keep a job due to injuries? I've paid a lot of money into the Social Security system. I'm thinking the government wants me to continue to work so I can keep paying into the system so people like my former friend can get her benefits. She couldn't get a job due to a drug felony, so she was diagnosed as bipolar and got benefits. But she only gets $900 per month. Mine would be a lot higher becaue of what I've paid in.
I've trying applying for jobs that don't require a college education, but they won't hire me because they think I will find something better and leave. I don't have 10 years of savings to live on. If anyone knows of any organizations that can help disabled people find employment please let me know. This is wrong on so many levels. I want to work, but I have a legitimate disability. Who is going to hire a 56 year old with a cane? My brain is good, and I do great work. Employers are now adding physical requirements such as being able to lift 40 lbs to job descriptions. That looks like an attempt to weed out disabled people. I don't want to have to move in with my mother, but that's my last option. My husband died 25 years ago, and I raised 2 kids alone. Otherwise I would have more money saved. I just don't know what to do now.
-posted Dec. 24, 2014
I totally understand what you went through. Five days before I was laid off I had a serious automobile accident. Earlier that month my father died. My mother had fallen that month and was in rehab with a fractured pelvis. I was 7 days away from closing on my dream home that I had worked for all my life. Then....I was called into the HR office, told I had three months severance and escorted out the door. That was 9 months ago. I have applied each day for jobs, gone on interviews and turned down, worked with recruiters that are only after your money. I'm at a loss. My unemployment ran out in September. I'm scraping by, living with my mother which I HATE at the age of 57. No husband, no future. I'm still in shock over this and always will be.
- posted Dec. 4, 2014
What a horrifying example of insensitivity and disrespect. Thank you for sharing it and for having a voice! It may take long to prove an age discrimination case, but when we all stand up and say loud and clear-this is what happened-the issue becomes visible. Shame on that bank, shame on that supervisor and congratulations for your courage in sharing it.
-posted Nov. 26, 2014
I feel my "layoff" was particularly heartless because I was on day one of a short bereavement leave. My dear mother had passed away only hours before US Bank decided to lay me off the following day. I was at the mortuary making funeral arrangements for my mother when my supervisor called me to confirm that I would be on a pre-scheduled conference call. At that time, about 90 minutes before the conference call, I told her that my mother had passed away the night before and that I would be taking a short bereavement leave. I got on the call and I was told by the senior person on the call that she was sorry my mother had passed away and offered her hollow condolences. We waited for my counterpart, who was traveling for business, to deplane and join the call. They delivered the layoff news to both of us on a conference call! Cowardly, indecent, insensitive, and cruel are words that come to mind. I am 58 and I believe Mark is between 50 and 55. Almost impossible to prove age discrimination, but it certainly reeks of it. I can be reached at 818.398.8078, if you want any more details.
-posted Nov. 13, 2014
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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