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What Are Common Types of Age Discrimination in the Workplace?

July 19th, 2023

What Are Common Types of Age Discrimination in the Workplace?

Age discrimination occurs when an employee or job applicant receives less favorable treatment based on how old they are. Though state and federal laws, such as the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), prohibits this against those aged 40 and older, employees and job candidates across the country still experience age discrimination’s adverse effects.

The ADEA bans discrimination in all aspects of employment. This encompasses hiring and firing, salary, benefits, promotions, training, and job assignments. It also applies to employment policies and practices. The ADEA also makes it illegal to harass people because of their age. It can come from a co-worker, client, customer, or supervisor and includes making derogatory or offensive comments about the person’s age or creating a hostile work environment.

Age discrimination may come in many different forms, including the following:

  • Institutional age discrimination: Institutional age discrimination occurs when company rules, policies, and practices are unfair to older employees, such as requiring a mandatory retirement age. Though some policies and practices may apply to all employees, certain age groups can be indirectly or unfairly disadvantaged in this type of discrimination.
  • Interpersonal age discrimination: Interpersonal age discrimination occurs when a specific employee or group of workers are discriminated against based on age. For instance, an employer promotes a less qualified worker simply because they are younger than the more qualified worker.
  • Internalized age discrimination: Internalized age discrimination occurs when people adopt age-related beliefs to define themselves.

What Are Common Examples of Age Discrimination?

Common examples of age discrimination include:

  • Asking a person’s age during job interviews when not relevant.
  • Bullying or harassment.
  • Disregarding others’ concerns or wishes based on their age.
  • Enacting policies unfairly privileging one age group over another.
  • Making ageist jokes implying others have less value or are worthy of respect.
  • Making offensive generalizations regarding a specific generation, such as “baby boomers.”
  • Refusing to hire based on age.
  • Treating coworkers as invisible, unintelligent, or expendable due to age.
  • Taking advantage of others’ age for personal gain.
  • Using others’ age to justify undermining, deceiving, or controlling.
  • Viewing older workers as irrelevant, less productive, or “stuck in their ways.”
  • Viewing younger workers as unskilled, irresponsible, or untrustworthy.

What Are Ways to Combat Age Discrimination?

With effort and policy changes, age discrimination can be prevented. This begins with educating employees on identifying it and the means to address it. Other ways to combat age discrimination include:

  • Design ways for workers of different ages to work together. Intergenerational teams can provide unique insights into workplace challenges.
  • Some feel that mandatory retirement age should be abolished because age is not a reliable way to judge a worker’s employability or productivity.
  • Employees and applicants can invest in their continued growth and development. Being well-read about industry topics and attending meetings can keep workers current on best practices.

Individually, people can help combat age discrimination by becoming an ally and investing time to take action against it, such as:

  • Understanding how age discrimination shapes one’s thoughts, feelings, and life experiences.
  • Learning how age discrimination affects others by actively listening to others’ experiences.
  • Developing skills to practice advocacy, such as knowing when and not when to speak up.
  • Taking action by correcting ageist stereotypes or jokes and speaking out against age discrimination.

Being an ally does not necessarily involve rescuing others but providing support and advocating when their efforts are being ignored.

Delaware County Employment Discrimination Lawyers at The Gold Law Firm P.C. Protect Employees Against Age Discrimination

Discriminating against workers based on age is illegal. If you are experiencing age discrimination at work, speak with our Delaware County employment discrimination lawyers at The Gold Law Firm P.C. Call 215-569-1999 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia and Pennsauken, New Jersey, we serve clients in South Jersey and Southeastern Pennsylvania, including Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, Northeast Philadelphia, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Lehigh County, and Montgomery County.

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