Service Cut Short by the Clock

January 2nd, 2009

Categories: Government, Service

In the first post of the New Year, Lucrezia poses an important question. A business manager and former newspaper reporter, she frequently shares her thoughts on this blog and many others.

New York State Chief Justice Judith Kaye must retire because of age (70), as per NYS law.

Is mandatory retirement constitutional?  Is it discriminatory?

In this age of increasing life spans, is putting people out to pasture right?  Many of our US Senators hit the 90s and they are not thrown out of office.  Why should this happen to anyone else?

11 Responses to “Service Cut Short by the Clock”

  1. David Reich Said:

    I agree that it seems quite unfair to have any age limits, except, possibly, for jobs that are physically demanding and/or require the faster reflexes and strength of a younger person — firefighter, for example.

  2. fpainestam Said:

    Hi, everybody.

    Forced retirement at any specified age is obviously discriminatory, not to mention stupid. Kick out the most knowledgeable and experienced folks around? What are we thinking?…

    Constitutionalty is another matter. I’m sure there are as many ways to twist the legal analysis as as there are lawyers willing to charge $500/hr. fees. The constitution is notoriously ambiguous…

    Bottom line, though…people should be allowed to work as long as they want to, and are able to do so…Here’s a great question: who gets to decide whether they are able to do so? Lawyers, get ready…

  3. Thomas Yip Said:

    I also agree that people should be allowed to work as long as they are able and qualified, despite of their age. China has a similar policy which forces existing workers to “retire” before their retiring age, but we are not in China!

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:

    The only way to guarantee that a person can work as long as they want to is to be the owner/boss of a privately owned company.

    There are unwritten forced retirements from all sorts of industries that are unrelated to current economic conditions [and no doubt will be even worse because of job shortages]. Unless you’re a star, try to get a job in a major ad or PR agency after 40. Middle aged women in movies or as TV newscasters? Hen’s teeth.

  5. DB Said:

    Retirement at 70 for judges is mandatory but before your heart bleeds for them know this:

    Judges continue to work on selected cases for many years after retirement – well into their eighties and beyond. It is a good arrangement because judges can choose cases when asked and on their terms.

    I know retired Judges (from Federal, Circuit, Appellate and District Courts) who may take a few six week cases a year allowing them to travel, fish, keep bees, garden, write books and enjoy their full retirement benefits at the same time they earn extra money for taking new cases.

    Retirement is just a new chapter of keeping active on the bench only with personal flexibility.

    Supremes can retire as they wish.

    It is a good way to bring new judges to the bench as seasoned retired judges do not fade away – they mentor the new judges!

  6. Lucrezia Said:

    It was heartening to learn from DB that all that knowledge and expertise is not being trashed. Now that the judges are well taken care of, what about everyone else? As Jeanne Byington points out, many people are “through” once they hit 40, and the older one gets, the harder it is to find gainful employment. Laws will not fix the problem, since there are so many ways to rid the workplace of older persons. The AARP has been a fixture for years, and seems to do little but fatten itself with a large membership. Activism does not appear to be its strong suit. Strong measures of one kind will eventually have to be taken, or society will be faced with a huge population of old people whose savings have run dry and/or whose firms retirement programs have vanished – along with the firm. What then? Do they move down South so as not to freeze on local street corners?

  7. Judy Said:

    More and more people are being forced to retire in their 50s, long before they are ready, and finding a job after 50 is difficult if not impossible. I have friends who were PR managers, who now work as clerks at Fleet Farm. I don’t think people should be forced out unless their skills are obviously failing, in which case this should be cited. Check on the number of people over 50 in recent layoffs and you’ll find the numbers are staggering. Where I worked, more than 70 percent of those laid off were over 50. The company lost skills that cannot be replaced.

  8. Martha Takayama Said:

    The comments cover all the salient points of the discussion.

    Although it seems unfair to force retirement on those willing and able to work, most everyone has experienced inadequate service from an individual we felt was too old to perform as needed. Our increasing older population manifests physically and mentally at such varying speeds, that mandatory retirement becomes a very perplexing matter. It seems of greatest importance in some professions, such as medicine, where mental alertness and motor skills are of utmost importance.

    Perhaps mandatory retirement may seem arbitrary, but it is one manner of trying to avoid some of the pitfalls of aging.

  9. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Martha, I think that experience –especially in the medical field–is critical and that while speed, in the emergency room and with EMS staff is key, it can’t replace skill and practice in many cases.

    Obviously, you don’t want a dentist wielding a high-speed drill or root canal instrument or brain surgeon with tongs and saw to come at you with a shaky hand…but the common sense that comes with having seen a lot and a work ethic and passion for medicine and curing people that’s a lifelong ambition can’t be beat, in my experience.

  10. Lucrezia Said:

    Another pitfall of aging could soon be thousands of otherwise viable human beings deprived of a livelihood because of their age. This could worsen to an alarming degree as the aging population dies later and later. What happens then, if these people outlive their retirement funds because they were deprived of work when they were physically and mentally shipshape? This is a question which should be answered before we start worrying about competence, since inability to function on the job, regardless of age, usually results in a firing.

  11. Obediah Said:

    The chairman of his department at a distinguished New York medical school recently told me that in blatant self-interest he tries to avoid being treated for anything by any doctor under age 60! This doctor is also fascinated by generational change, but he makes an interesting point.

    I think age may have something to do with experience and even more to do with attitude, but it doesn’t have much to do with competence, unless there are questions of physical or mental disabilities. However, new blood makes any organization more dynamic, if not always in the right direction. If you don’t unclog the top by forced retirement, you run the risk of stagnation.

    Lastly, I’m fond of Kipling’s four ages of man. 0 to 20, scholar, 20 to 40, warrior, 40 to 60, statesman, 60 to 80, wise man. It’s not a bad formula for a good life.

Leave a Reply