D is for Discrimination Due to Your Age in the Workplace

D is for Discrimination Due to Your Age in the Workplace

Unfortunately, many workplaces are rife with all types of discrimination. However, one type of discrimination that is rarely talked about is age discrimination. This type usually pertains to older workers not being as “fit” as their younger counterparts to do the same job. Age discrimination is harmful to both companies and to society as a whole. When we do not value our elders, we miss out on valuable knowledge and perspectives.

American society values youth above all else. So why would companies think any differently? The culture surrounding the idea that “younger is better” is completely untrue and harmful. It skews the bias that the older you are, the less likely you are to do well at work due to mental and physical limitations. The rapid advance of technology over the past few decades has only reinforced the idea that younger is better. Age discrimination is so ingrained in our society that while some companies discriminate on purpose, most companies and employees have no idea that this even exists.

According to AARP, about 3 in 5 older workers (45 years and up) have seen or experienced age discrimination in the workplace. Negative comments about a more senior employee, being encouraged (or even pushed) to retire, and not being hired due to a younger candidate are common examples of ageism in the workplace. Older employees also report not getting the same opportunities for training, promotions, and raises as younger employees do.

So, how do we reverse an ageist workplace culture?

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) has made some strides on the issue. After the Civil Rights Act of 1964 made strides for other serious discrimination. The ADEA exists to make sure people are employed based on their ability rather than their age. While this law makes most age discrimination illegal, it never gained the same traction as the Civil Rights Act, causing this to fly under the radar. This Act offers protection. But it can be difficult to prove to save an older employee’s job.

The best thing we can do to make a more inclusive society is to change our mindset around those that are different from us, and speak up when we see injustices. If you are a younger employer, don’t judge an older employee or candidate based on their age. Instead, be concerned about their ability to do the job and what they can uniquely bring to the table. If you are an older employee yourself, speak up! While it may take a little more effort to prove your worth, do it and do it well! Ask for a promotion or a raise. Don’t be afraid to come up with ideas or improvements. Ask for further education, and at worst, do it yourself. 

With a bit of education and effort for all, we can learn to stop discrimination of all kinds within the workplace.


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