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Recognizing Age Discrimination in the Workplace

Discrimination in any form is a violation of federal employment laws like Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Many states have state-specific employment laws that go beyond this Act to provide further protections to workers. When an employee faces unfair treatment at work because of a characteristic that he or she cannot change, such age, race, sex, or disability, he or she is a victim of workplace discrimination.

Who is Protected From Age Discrimination?

Under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, only workers over the age of 40 are protected from age discrimination. Generally, older workers are the ones who face discrimination based on their age because of preconceived notions about their ability to adapt to new technologies and policies and their willingness to comply with supervisors’ instruction, especially younger supervisors. It is important to note that age discrimination can be committed by an individual of any age, even an individual older than the victim of the discrimination.

Examples of Age Discrimination

If one or more of the following occur in your workplace, age discrimination could be happening. When an older individual is terminated, note who is brought in to replace him or her. Hiring a younger worker to replace an older individual is not indicative of age discrimination on its own, but it could be a symptom of it. Other examples of workplace age discrimination include:

  • Making comments or jokes at the expense of an older individual or group of workers;
  • Actively encouraging older individuals to retire;
  • Asking questions in interviews that reveal applicants’ ages, such as asking when they graduated from high school;
  • Excluding older workers from projects and meetings; and
  • Screening out older applicants when recruiting. This can be done by only recruiting from college campuses or actively attempting to only recruit young workers.

How Age Discrimination Hurts Workers

Many of the ways age discrimination hurts workers are obvious. When an individual is passed over for a job or promotion, he or she loses the income and benefits that would have come with that position. The same problem occurs when an older worker is terminated or laid off. This can disrupt the individual’s ability to provide for him- or herself as well as his or her ability to retire.

Allowing age discrimination to occur in a workplace can also create a culture in which employees feel they cannot speak up about the injustices they face. Age discrimination can keep knowledgeable, capable employees out of the workplace, robbing a company of their talents.

Work with an Experienced Employment Lawyer

Age discrimination hurts everybody in a workplace, not just the direct target of the discriminatory behavior. You have the right to file an age discrimination claim if you are an age discrimination victim and you have the right to provide testimony to support a colleague’s age discrimination claim without fear of retaliation from your employer. To learn more about your rights in the workplace, contact our team of employment lawyers at Moen Sheehan Meyer, Ltd. today to set up your initial consultation with us.

Published June 14, 2017
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