Age and the older worker

The theme is age in the news today.

First, Judge Galen Vaa, a Ventura appointee to the bench in Clay County, has lost his lawsuit protesting the state’s requirement that when a judge turns 70 in this state, they’re finished.

It wasn’t a surprise. Two other judges over the years have taken the issue to the Minnesota Supreme Court, which told them both they had to go under the state’s mandatory retirement age.

“I hope that I get to a point where there’s a decision made by the end of the year so if I lose I can get ready for retirement,” he tells Forum News of his plan to appeal the decision.

The law, enacted in the ’60s by voters who added it to the Minnesota Constitution, doesn’t care who you are. Supreme Court justice Alan Page was pushed out by the law a year ago.

It also swept up Judge Larry Collins of Steele County, who had to retire in January.

He’s the guy who caught our attention by caring about the people who appeared in his drug court.

Judge Larry Collins gives Ashly Sylvester, Steele Waseca Drug Court's first graduate, a big hug Jan. 19. Sylvester returned to help congratulate the retiring Collins. (Suzanne Rook/Waseca County News)

One day you’re a valued employee; the next day you have no value when all you did was blow out a few candles.

But that’s the way it goes. Because the tricky thing with the law is… it’s the law.

Meanwhile, out in Grand Forks, Jean Wald gets to go to work again today at the Ramada, according to the Grand Forks Herald.

She’s 90 now. She’s been a server in the banquet room for 38 years.

A few years ago, her colleagues pooled $100 for her birthday. She gave the money to her church instead.

“What else was I going to do with the money?” Wald said.

Perhaps at 90, knowing your employer still sees the value you bring to the job is a reward.

Not that Minnesota judges would know.