‘Game of Thrones’ author’s tweet brings the spotlight to age discrimination against older workers
You know what they say about winter…
George R. R. Martin, the 68-year-old “Game of Thrones” creator recently tweeted an image of himself dressed in boyish garb—think baseball cap artfully askew and hands posed as if he were in a 90s rap video—while half-jokingly noting that his publishers had asked him to appeal to a younger audience.
So, my publishers say I have to start trying to appeal to a younger audience… pic.twitter.com/T3BZuw6iqB
— George RR Martin (@GRRMspeaking) April 11, 2017
With his fervent fan base and a fortune that Forbes pegs at $15 million, the silver-haired Martin can afford to kid around. But his jovial tweet belies the bigger problem of age discrimination in the American workplace. That might be a curious sentiment, especially given the political and economic power older people are commonly believed to hold. Yet, the data tells a different story.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reported that almost 20,000 charges of employment age discrimination were filed in 2016, up from about 16,500 a decade before. That issue even pervades lucrative industries like Hollywood and tech.
For instance, the Writers Guild of America, West considers older writers an underrepresented group. According to the guild’s 2016 diversity report, employment for screenwriters between 70 to 80 declined to just 8% of all writers in 2014, down from 10% in 2012. This is despite the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which protects those above age 40.
This isn’t just an issue for Baby Boomers and even millennials in their 30’s worry about age in the workplace. Apocryphal evidence suggests even some 20 somethings working in those wunderkind-friendly places get botox injections.
Serious advances have been made in recent decades in tackling discrimination against women, ethnic minorities and gays in the workplace, but age discrimination is likely to persist in the coming years. That’s especially as Boomers and Gen Xers who haven’t saved enough for retirement extend their stay in the workforce. This wasn’t a problem in Martin’s medieval fantasy world, where almost everyone was chopped down in their prime anyway.
© 2017 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved