Careers: Unmasking Age Bias

Though nobody wants to admit it, older workers--some only in their 40s--still have trouble getting good jobs. Or even holding on to posts in which they have accumulated a career's worth of experience.

Jim McElyea lost his job as general counsel of a major consumer-products company in 1996 supposedly because of downsizing--but he never knew for sure. It wasn't until five months ago that he finally found full-time work again, as general counsel of White Cap, a container maker based in Downers Grove, Ill.--but at a salary a third below the six-figure income he earned in his old job. Some prospective employers even refused to interview him, McElyea, 50, reports, although he asked for no more money than applicants with 10 to 15 years less experience. Meanwhile, his former company promoted a 36-year-old to...

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