Employers typically do not come out and state that they are discriminating against someone because of their age. That doesn’t mean discrimination based on age doesn’t occur, though. It just means that this type of discrimination is often subtle.
Even then, discrimination based on age is illegal, so it is crucial to keep an eye out for indirect and less obvious signs of age discrimination in the workplace.
What age discrimination can look like
Some of the more indirect types of discrimination against older workers might take the following forms:
- Using phrases like “digital native” or “recent graduate” in job postings
- Failing to provide training for older workers
- Moving older workers to nonessential roles
- Making jokes about things like “senior moments”
- Excluding older workers from work-related functions
- Giving harsher criticism or discipline to older workers
These actions can be illegal, even when they are subtle. That said, overt types of age discrimination are also illegal, though they may be less common. Watch for:
- Forced retirement for older workers
- Ageist hiring practices, like wanting to build “a millennial team”
- Harassing workers for being over the age of 40
- Putting unnecessary age caps on roles
- “Eliminating” roles filled by older workers only to replace them with younger people in the same positions
These actions can be grounds for an age discrimination complaint, so it is crucial for workers to be mindful of all the different ways employers unfairly treat older workers.
Calling out unfair treatment
If you suspect you or someone you know is the victim of age discrimination in the workplace, you can be in a position to call out the treatment to stop it and protect workers’ rights.
Whether you are a witness to or victim of age discrimination, contact an experienced employment attorney to discuss your rights and options. Depending on your particular situation, you may choose to start by notifying your supervisor or employer of the issue or filing a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. To give yourself the best chance of a successful outcome, you should retain documentation or other proof of the conduct you believe was discriminatory.
You and your attorney can also discuss filing a lawsuit against your employer and any individuals who participated in the discrimination. Doing so can help you call out unfair policies and practices and seek any financial remedies for which you may be eligible.