Organizations such as the EEOC and anti-discrimination laws have made workplace discrimination in general illegal. As a result, it has become the focus of much litigation.
One type of discrimination that can be difficult to identify and even harder to prove is ageism. This may be because ageism can impact people of all races, genders, religions and political affiliations.
In 1967, the government passed the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), making it illegal to discriminate against employees over 40 years old based solely on their age and not in tandem with other factors. The Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA), a modification to the ADEA, made it illegal to discriminate against older workers concerning benefits and retirement.
Age discrimination can range from subtle remarks to flagrant generalizations about an older person’s abilities. For example, a common misconception is that older employees cannot learn new processes or technology. This type of discrimination can manifest in negative comments or the promotion of a younger person, despite their inferior qualifications.
Age discrimination can take many forms. Some of these include lower pay or receiving less desirable assignments. Older employees often top the potential layoff list and are among the last rehires.
Many people over the age of 40 admit to experiencing age discrimination at work, though they often do not file complaints, perhaps because of the belief that nothing will change. Moreover, many older employees who find themselves out of work have little confidence in finding another job at the same salary level. America’s population is aging, which could either make the age discrimination problem worse or force employers to take a firmer stance against it.