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The Effects of Changing Anti-Discrimination Legal Standards on the Evaluation of Older Workers


  • The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the United States Air Force, Department of Defense, or the United States Government.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Cody Cox, who is now at the School of Arts and Sciences, Texas A&M University–San Antonio, One University Way, San Antonio, TX 78224. E-mail:


Recent court decisions have raised evidentiary standards for demonstrating age discrimination, which may also impact attitudes toward older workers. In 2 studies, we explored the relationship between perceived legal protections and attitudes toward older workers. In Study 1, perceptions of current discrimination laws predicted attitudes toward older workers. In Study 2, participants received a training module that either discussed the recent ruling or previous law. When the new ruling was presented, older targets were rated less capable of change and less suitable for their jobs than were otherwise equivalent younger targets. Individuals high in power distance were particularly susceptible to this effect. Implications of the importance of age anti-discrimination laws are discussed.