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Is Age Discrimination Becoming an Epidemic?

Is Age Discrimination Becoming an Epidemic?

What all workers over 40 need to know

Would you believe that nearly two-thirds of people from ages 45 to 74 said they had experienced or witnessed age discrimination at work? That’s according to survey results from the AARP.

If you’re over a “certain age,” this news may not come as a shock.

Many older workers find themselves driven off the job, encouraged to retire, or just simply unable to find a job when competing against younger candidates.

So what constitutes age discrimination? What are your rights if it happens to you?

Let’s take a look at what the law says.

Legal protection starts at age 40

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) protects job applicants and employees who are over the age of 40 from being discriminated against because of their age.

Not all employers are required to comply with ADEA, but many are, including:

  • private employers with 20 or more employees
  • the federal government
  • state and local governments (including school districts)
  • employment agencies, and
  • labor organizations.

What the law says

Discrimination may comprise a long list of possible actions. According to the ADEA, employers may not treat workers over 40 differently in respect to:

  • hiring, firing, and layoffs
  • advancement opportunities and job training
  • compensation and benefits, and
  • job assignments.

Workers are also protected from being retaliated against after opposing age discrimination. That means that employees can’t be fired, demoted, given less desirable assignments, etc., after making a complaint.

The subtle side of age discrimination

Sometime age discrimination is obvious, but many times it’s more subtle. For example, words and phrases like “culture fit,” “energy,” or “progressive ideas” may all mask a company’s true intentions to retain a younger workforce.

Repeated comments that reference age may also indicate age discrimination. For example “We need to get some young blood in here,” or “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” may be indicative of age bias.

However, it’s important to note that comments such as these must be so severe and pervasive that they create a hostile work environment. Passing comments are often not enough to prove age discrimination.

Call us for a consultation now

If you believe that you’ve been unlawfully discriminated against because of your age, it’s a good idea to speak to an attorney.

Call or email us today to discuss your unique situation.

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