Age discrimination is real. Two out of three workers between ages 45 and 75 say they have seen or experienced age discrimination at work, and job seekers over age 35 cite it as a top obstacle to getting hired. And if you happen to work in the high-tech industry, age discrimination is even higher.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) makes it illegal to discriminate against workers ages 40 and up. Age discrimination is illegal at any stage of employment, including during hiring, promotions, raises and layoffs. The law also prohibits workplace harassment, by coworkers, supervisors or clients, because of age.
While it is currently legal for employers and prospective employers to ask your age as well as your graduation dates, that is slowly changing. However, a 2009 U.S. Supreme Court ruling made it harder for older workers to prevail in court. The court said plaintiffs must meet a higher burden of proof for age discrimination than for other types of discrimination. In other words, the Supreme Court moved the law backward and sent a message to employers that some amount of proven discrimination is legally allowed. Be Aware My Older Friends!
Most Americans— say they want to see Congress create stronger laws to prevent age discrimination at work. And most people believe age discrimination begins when workers hit their 50s. Sadly age discrimination happens early and for no reason outside of ignorance.
Not getting hired is the most common type of age discrimination experienced, with 19 percent of people citing it. While an additional 12 percent say they missed out on a promotion because of age, and 8 percent say they were laid off or fired based on their ages.
How to help yourself:
You can take action. If you think you’ve been discriminated against, you can file a charge with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). You can also work with a lawyer to file a lawsuit. Before taking either of these steps, consider going through your company’s grievance system, if it has one. Know that filing a lawsuit can be expensive and there is no guarantee of victory. To help bolster your case, be sure to keep a careful record of all of the alleged discrimination.