Harvey Jackson is 70. Despite his good health and willingness to take almost any job he could find, he says employers can't seem to look past his age. Jackson is frustrated. He's literally applied for dozens of jobs, everything from a landscaper for the county, to a stock man for Wal-Mart, but he has yet to get hired. "It's aggravating more than anything else. I know I can do the work, I want a chance," said Jackson. Jackson fears his age is the problem. While many of his peers are retired, Harvey says he loves to work. "Work to anybody, is what you should do. If you try to sit home, you ain't going to last long. I ain't going to sit in there, I'm going to be out here doing something," said Jackson. And he's not just looking for something to do, Harvey needs the money. His only source of income is an $1100 Social Security check each month, and he says it just isn't enough to pay for his truck, his groceries and his other household bills. Jackson said, "I'm down to one dollar and I've got to figure out some way to sell something or get a hold of some money, and I'd rather work for my money. I don't want no giveaways I want to work." In case you're wondering, Harvey has no criminal record, and a clean driving record. Despite decades of experience as a truck driver, and another stint as a construction foreman, his resume is getting him nowhere. We showed his resume to Walker Biggs, who manages the local Employment Security Commission office. "With our economy and unemployment rate being relatively low here in New Hanover County, we have a lot of employers that really, with someone with good experience, and I've had them tell me, they say I don't care what their age is, if they can do the job, then I want them here to do the job," said Biggs. Biggs said despite many employers willingness to hire elderly job candidates, Harvey may want to focus his search on jobs that don't involve manual labor, driving, or operating heavy equipment. And, regardless of his ability, employers may pick younger candidates for those jobs. "Some companies, it may come into an insurance thing, I know that they can't hire 18-year-olds to be drivers in some companies because of their insurance regulations and that may drive what some of these companies are doing, but they need to be upfront and say our insurance won't let us hire you. That would be better to tell somebody, than I can't hire you," said Biggs. Harvey said he's more interested in finding a job than filing a lawsuit, but if you're in a similar situation, there are laws on the books against age discrimination. That being said, proving that an employer didn't hire you because of your age is difficult. If you suspect you've been discriminated against for any reason, experts recommend filing a complaint with the New Hanover Human Relations Commissions. They can investigate, and research hiring patterns at the company which may validate discrimination complaints and result in corrective action. Meanwhile, if you're an employer with a job for Harvey, we'd love to hear from you. "There is a definite plus to hiring some of your older workers. You know, they've got history, some of them have a long work history, they have experiences that other people don't have," said Biggs.
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