Law Requires Special Treatment for Seniors
Respect for your elders means a variety of things depending upon the culture. In some areas, it simply means listening to the advice of those older than you. In other areas, it means giving up your seat on a bus for an elderly person.
In Brazil, the law requires a certain level of respect for those over 60. According to the law, all business and government facilities must provide immediate and preferential help for those over 60. Businesses that fail to do this may face a fine of up to 2,500 reais (roughly $700).
This law is nothing new. In 2000, financial institutions were required to give priority status to seniors, and private businesses, mostly retailers, were told to follow suit in 2003. Since that time, many businesses have established “caixas preferências” or preferential lines. These lines can be used by the elderly as well as those who have a disability or are pregnant. They can also be used by mothers who bring along their children.
While senior citizens nationally can take advantage of this opportunity to get preferential treatment, those living in Fortaleza, a city in northeastern Brazil along the Atlantic Ocean, get even more privileges because of their age. A May 2014 ordinance allows senior citizens and some others with special-needs to cut in line anytime and in any place, no matter the number of people in line.
Unfortunately, the law has led to angry feelings for some people. They believe this privilege should not necessarily extend to all senior citizens, but rather it should cover those who really need it, such as the sick or disabled.
Even people not yet in the 60 plus age bracket find ways to take advantage of the law. For example, some people use their older family or friends to do errands. There are also businesses that hire seniors to work as “office boys.” This allows their company to get priority service at a variety of businesses in the community, thereby allowing them to complete their business faster. Waiting at a bank for an hour is not uncommon in Brazil, so jumping to the front of the line can save a significant amount of time.
While some people argue there are senior citizens misusing this preferential treatment, others feel the model should be used by other cities, both nationally and internationally.