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AARP Survey Reveals Older Women Regularly Face Workplace Discrimination

July 19th, 2022
Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at The Gold Law Firm P.C. Help All Workers Facing Discrimination in the Workplace.

Recently, a study by the AARP revealed that almost two-thirds of women age 50 years old or older regularly experience discrimination in the workplace, causing mental health issues. The poll surveyed over 6,600 women of all ethnicities, ages, races, and backgrounds, and it further reveals the adverse effects of discrimination.

Among the women, almost 48 percent surveyed revealed that the most frequent form of discrimination they face on a daily basis is ageism. Ageism is discrimination based solely on a person’s age. Other forms of discrimination, such as bias based on weight, race, gender, and social class, were also reported.

Researchers have found that discrimination of all forms can cause adverse health effects, such as depression, anxiety, distress, high blood pressure, and substance abuse. Cognitive declines have also been reported.

Some other important details of the AARP survey include:

  • Sixty-nine percent of women ages 18 and older surveyed state they experienced discrimination on a regular basis.
  • Among the women ages 50 and older, African American women experienced the highest levels of discrimination, with 70 percent stating they experienced discrimination on a regular basis. Almost 60 percent of Latinas and Asian American/Pacific Islanders ages 50 and older reported experiencing discrimination regularly.
  • Among the women who regularly experience discrimination, including older women ages 50 and older, weight discrimination was reported to have the biggest impact on mental health.
  • About 30 percent of all women surveyed have experienced age discrimination. Women ages 50 and older experienced ageism at about the same rate as younger women.
  • Women who regularly experienced discrimination stated that they reacted to discrimination by adapting their behavior. About 74 percent of women closely watched their surroundings, about 58 percent carefully watched what they said, and over 50 percent considered safety and comfort in daily interactions.
  • Among the women ages 50 and older, over 80 percent who regularly experienced discrimination felt pressure to be or look a certain way at work. Additionally, over 88 percent of women in other age groups felt pressure to act or look a certain way at work.
  • About 57 percent of women polled reported  that they felt pressure to wear makeup at work. However, the change that women felt the most pressure with was weight loss.

Even though age discrimination is illegal, it is still major issue for older women in the workplace. Problems such as assumptions about a woman’s ability or inability based on their age, fewer opportunities for a promotion, or believing one is not familiar with modern technology are all forms of age discrimination.

According to many studies, a person’s job performance improves as they age, and older workers are known for their reliability, loyalty, and work ethic. As people are living longer and longer, losing the older generation at workplaces is damaging businesses and companies across the country.

Discrimination and Mental Health

A study published in a medical journalreveals that mental health problems are linked to experiencing discrimination in any form. The study found that adults who regularly experience discrimination are 25 percent more likely to be diagnosed with a mental disorder, as well as twice as likely to develop severe psychological distress.

The study found that stress created by discrimination can affect you mentally in direct and non-direct ways. Even anticipating discrimination causes anxiety strong enough for people to avoid situations where they could miss an opportunity. When people feel less and less with self-worth, they tend to have a lower overall satisfaction with life.

It is not just mental health issues that discrimination causes but physical problems as well. Health problems like hypertension, heart disease, and chronic illness are all linked to stress and discrimination.

How to Deal With Discrimination in the Workplace?

If you are dealing with discrimination in the workplace, you should do the following:

  • Self-care: Taking care of yourself and your mind, like meditating, exercising, and journaling, can help protect you from the negativity brought on by discrimination.
  • Concentrate on your strengths: By focusing on yourself and your beliefs and values, remind yourself that there is strength in everybody, including yourself. This can help you be more resilient.
  • Find support: There are support groups for people who experience discrimination, comprised of those who have had similar experiences. These support groups understand what you are going through and can listen to your feelings. You can also seek therapy or contact a psychologist for professional help.
  • Act: Make a formal complaint to your employer, or take legal action against those who are discriminating you.

Discrimination in Pennsylvania Workplaces

Employment discrimination is illegal in every state, with each state implementing rules and laws protecting a worker against discrimination. If you are being discriminated against in the workplace, it is important to know your state’s laws and how to make a claim.

In Pennsylvania, it is illegal for an employer to discriminate you on the basis of:

  • Race.
  • Creed.
  • Color.
  • Ancestry.
  • Religion.
  • Age.
  • Sex.
  • National origin.

It is also illegal for an employer to discriminate someone based on their disability.

Employers in Pennsylvania with 15 or more employees are subject to federal anti-discrimination laws. However, there are a few exceptions, such as age discrimination (for employers with 20 or more employees), citizenship status discrimination (employers with four or more employees), and equal pay for men and women. The anti-discrimination law of Pennsylvania applies to all employers with four or more employees.

You can file a discrimination claim either with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC) or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which is the federal administrative agency. Both agencies cooperate with each other when processing claims.

Also, there are strict time limits when filing an employment discrimination claim. Whether you file with the PHRC or the EEOC, remember you have 180 days to do so from the date the discrimination took place. It is best to consult with an experienced employment lawyer before filing a claim.

After filing your claim, the EEOC will send a notice and a copy of the charge to your employer, who then will be asked to take part in a mediation program along with yourself. The employer must then give a written answer to your charge and answer any questions concerning the discrimination claim. The EEOC would then investigate further and then notify yourself and the employer of the result.

If the EEOC finds that discrimination did not occur, then you will receive a notice that gives you permission to file a lawsuit in court. If the EEOC finds that discrimination did occur, then they will try to reach a voluntary settlement with the employer. If no settlement is reached, then the EEOC may proceed further with a lawsuit.

Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at The Gold Law Firm P.C. Help All Workers Facing Discrimination in the Workplace

Discrimination is illegal in the workplace. If you have been discriminated against by your employer, one of our Philadelphia employment lawyers at The Gold Law Firm P.C. can help. Our knowledgeable legal team has years of experience and can protect your rights as a worker. Call us at 215-569-1999 or fill out our online form for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia and Pennsauken, New Jersey, we proudly serve clients in South Jersey and Southeastern Pennsylvania, including Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, Northeast Philadelphia, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, and Montgomery County.

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