Age discrimination in the job market is against the law. It’s as simple as that. In 1967, the federal Age Discrimination Employment Act made it illegal for employers to discriminate against workers 40 years and over. Does that mean that it never happens; of course not.
Back in 2013, AARP conducted a survey of more than 1,500 adult U.S. workers. Two thirds of those between the age of 45 and 74 said then that they had either suffered age discrimination or knew someone who had. And last year, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reported that it received 20,588 ageism claims. And legal observers say it’s only going to get worse in the years ahead.
The reason many give is that so many in the baby boomer generation are working more years. Meanwhile, those in younger generations continue to push up from below. That puts pressure on the marketplace and something is bound to give. And that’s where stereotypes may enter the picture.
Despite a great deal of research to the contrary, many continue to hold to misguided ideas that older workers are by their nature less productive, less tech savvy and cost more than younger workers. And where such notions linger, ageism easily occurs. It might not happen consciously. Then again, it might be done quite willfully. But the question becomes can it be proven?
It should be noted that this isn’t an issue limited to just the private sector. Federal workers in Texas, Georgia, Washington, D.C., and the rest of the country are as susceptible to ageism as everyone else. And workers who suffer such wrongs in the workplace need to be sure they understand their rights so they can defend them if the need arises.