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Understanding workplace age discrimination

Older workers bring years of valuable experience and offer many significant contributions to the organizations they work for. Unfortunately, some workers experience age discrimination. There are common signs of age discrimination and steps affected workers can take to address it.

Age discrimination

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) explains that age discrimination occurs when an applicant or employee is treated less favorably because of his or her age.

It applies to workers who are age 40 or older, to employers with 20 or more employees and involves any aspect of employment. This includes hiring, firing, promotion, assignments and other conditions of employment.

Also, it does not apply to isolated incidents. The age discrimination must be so pervasive that it causes a hostile or offensive work environment or results in an adverse employment action, like termination.

Signs of age discrimination

Sometimes, age discrimination is clearly evident like when an employer states that the employee only hires younger people or that the employee is being terminated because he or she is too old. However, it is more common that the discrimination is subtle.

If the employer provides younger workers with opportunities for training, projects and promotions but passes over older workers for the same work, that could be a sign of age discrimination. Also, if the employer comments that older workers can’t use technology, aren’t familiar with social media or are demoted from technology-based roles, that may also be evidence of discrimination.

If an employee believes he or she has been discriminated against based on age, an experienced attorney can help.