Laid-Off Legal Secretary Sees Age Bias in Job Search

A legal secretary who lost her job with Cozen O’Connor in 2009 is still looking for full-time work, despite 60 interviews in the legal field.

Terri Doring is 57 years old and she thinks her difficulties are partly due to her age, the Washington Times reports. “I have an excellent career record. It all comes down to age discrimination,” she told the newspaper. She said she wishes she lived in “a new country where expertise is valued.”

Doring received a generous retirement package and unemployment benefits, but the money has run out, the story says. She has spent some of her retirement savings and tapped an inheritance from her father. She is trying to sell or rent her townhouse. She says she eats only one meal a day to save money, and she has met people online who, like her, eat cereal and eggs to economize.

Doring was paid $55,000 a year before she was laid off, and she suspects the salary causes employers to seek younger workers who are willing to accept less. Doring tells the newspaper that she is willing to take a salary cut, but she draws the line at working for a verbally abusive lawyer. (She walked away from the single legal secretary job she found because of the lawyer’s personality.)

Doring laments that employers nowadays value word-processing skills and speed instead of people skills. “Personal assistance is passé,” she says.

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