Older Workers Benefit Protection Act
Federal age discrimination laws state that an employer may not discriminate on basis of age for those who are 40 years old and older (provided your employer has more than 20 employees). I am over 40 years old so this affects me personally. Last week, I posted a blog asking why there is no mandatory retirement age for "old" therapists. I didn't anticipate there would be so many therapists who thought of themselves as "old."
Some have accused me of being discriminatory based on retirement age but those therapists ignore the U.S. Army, which has a mandatory retirement age of 62 and an age limit to enlist. Airline pilots have a mandatory retirement age of 65, yet I don't see therapists rallying to their aid to change this nor do I see therapists petitioning the government to change the mandatory retirement and enlistment ages of those in the armed forces. And where were those therapists when school bus drivers were fighting the mandatory retirement age of 65?
If a job is dangerous or requires a high level of physical and mental skill, there's a probability the position will come with a mandatory retirement age. Is our job dangerous? Yes, we are faced with potential blood-borne pathogens and infectious diseases with every patient we touch. Does our job require a high level of physical and mental skill? Yes, this goes without saying. Therapists have the luxury of treating patients and working while others are forced into retirement even if they are physically and mentally able to perform the job.
There is no governing board or group of physicians who look into our health and mental status before we're issued a license to practice. If I suggest this should be changed to protect the public from therapy license holders, how is this age discrimination? A therapist could have early-onset dementia (or Parkinson's) and still practice while potentially putting the public at risk. But at the mere mention of a therapist possibly having significant balance and memory impairments, I'm called ageist and discriminatory.
Maybe those therapists who called me discriminatory could petition the state boards to eliminate any wording regarding the mental health status of PTs and PTAs in the rules and regulations. A mental illness is a chronic disease and shouldn't have to be disclosed when applying for licensure. Those same therapists who want to protect the public from the mentally ill and deny licensure to them, will probably see nothing wrong with allowing licensure to a therapist who scored poorly on a balance test or memory exam.
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