It’s possible for Age Discrimination to go unnoticed in a company. There might be no malicious intent, but the consequences can still have that same effect. Employees might be unaware of the assumptions being made by a hiring manager or HR professional, but the environment can still be hostile for them. It’s also possible that a seemingly innocuous comment could alienate elderly employees, even if the intention was to be kind.
What does Age Discrimination look like? A 30-year old female attorney may be told that she is “too young” to be a partner or lead a team. A job candidate in his mid-50’s could hear through the grapevine that the company he applied for wanted a young, recent college graduate with “lots of energy and no young children.” Or an employee in their mid-60’s was interested in professional development but it was hinted to them that they shouldn’t attend and to let the younger employees go. Although Age Discrimination can certainly strike both ways, most complaints and studies have focused on the experience of those 50 and older.
To attempt to combat this problem, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act was passed in 1967 and it prohibits employers from discriminating against employees based on their age. This includes hiring, firing, work assignments, and promotions but unfortunately, small businesses are exempt from this protection.
If you are curious if Age Discrimination is happening to you, or someone you know–here are a few signs of age discrimination to look out for:
Is there a reoccurring pattern of younger employees only being offered additional training and development opportunities such as access to reimbursement for continuing education, professional or industry conference attendance? Did you or other older employees also ask to attend and be included but were not? Does it seem like your supervisors are “dragging their feet” when it comes to you and your professional development?
This can be considered Age Discrimination.
Is your once boisterous list of duties has simmered down to nothing but busy work? Being disregarded or passed over for challenging tasks? This may also look like an inequitable share of unpleasant or wearisome duties given to older employees.
Have you noticed that you are being left out of important meetings? What about company activities like the departmental softball team or “intense” teambuilding sessions because they think you can’t handle it?
There can be an assumption (spoken or unspoken) that you should be available since you don’t have young children at home anymore. This can look like denied PTO requests or knowing that a younger employee has also submitted PTO on the same day for a family vacation and was approved but you weren’t.
Disparaging criticisms and comments about age can take many forms. Some might be playful, such as someone who aims jokes at your age or typing speed. Others might be downright aggressive, such as rude nicknames like “gramps” or pointed and/or cornering comments that pressure you to retire and “free up the position” for someone younger than you.
It seems that your boss is not giving you the raises and promotions you deserve. This could be because they are discriminating against you because of your age but it might also be that your individual performance does not meet the standards of your employer.
Remember, you are not alone. Last year, an AARP survey reported that:
Age discrimination is a very real concern for those who are in the 50+ age bracket and nobody should be discriminated against for their age. There have been countless studies that prove stereotypes about older workers are wrong, but some people still aren’t aware.
So if you or someone in your family witnesses or experienced age discrimination, you need to know your rights especially if you have had your employment affected. Age discrimination is not always intentional, but it can happen. Be sure to take detailed notes; write down the dates, times, and the names of witnesses to conversations. Make notes of denied training and promotion opportunities as well. Finally, reach out to an employment lawyer like us here at The Law Office of David H. Rosenberg. If you need guidance or legal assistance with this discrimination, do not hesitate to contact us today by giving us a call at 516-741-0300 and we will assess your situation and advise you on the next steps.