Older workers deal with discrimination on the job

Discrimination persists against older workers across America.

Americans are living much longer now than in generations past. The average person can expect to live well into their 80s. Longer life spans – and the need for a bigger retirement nest egg to fund that life – mean that workers are waiting longer to leave their jobs than they did just 20 or 30 years ago. As a result, many companies now have workforces made up primarily of middle-aged and older workers.

Older employees bring with them, of course, more experience, job skills, education, and perspective than less-experienced younger ones. Unfortunately, not every employer recognizes the many benefits of workers over the age of 40. This lack of acceptance can lead to discrimination both on the job and in the hiring process.

Prohibited actions

Federal and state anti-discrimination laws prohibit a wide array of "employment-related actions," from being used to disproportionately negatively impact older workers. What are these types of actions? Well, they include:

  • Not hiring older workers, even when experience, education and skills are comparable to or at higher levels than those of younger candidates
  • Refusing to interview older workers (a 2017 study showed that workers in their 40s received calls for interviews at a significantly lower rate than younger workers did; once the person's age increased to 65, interviews were nearly impossible to come by)
  • Including arbitrary age limits in job postings when age is not a core part of the job itself; a teen clothing line, for example, needs model applicants under the age of 20, as would casting for a production of a children's play like "Annie" or "Newsies"
  • Refusing to promote or advance qualified older workers in favor of less-experienced younger workers in order to "bring new blood to management" or get a "fresh perspective" on the marketplace
  • Demoting, firing or punishing workers over the age of 40 at a rate much higher than younger employees
  • Creating a hostile work environment for older workers that makes them feel unwelcome (by calling them names like "old man" or "old woman," telling biased jokes or consistently setting up team-building activities that older employees would be less likely to attend, like ropes courses, white-water rafting, etc.)

The many benefits of a legal action

If you suspect that employment consequences you face(d) are due to discrimination, you may be able to bring a legal action to recover financial and economic damages. Legal actions can bring about a culture shift at the company to make it more acceptable for older workers, and could produce compensation for victims of bias. Such compensation could include:

  • Back pay
  • Front pay
  • Reinstatement
  • Bonuses, wages, advances and awards that were lost because of discrimination
  • Promotion
  • Hiring for lost opportunities

Have you been the victim of workplace age-discriminated bias? If so, you need the aid of an experienced employment law attorney like those at the Law Offices of Kell Simon. Call the firm at 512-898-9019 or send an email today to schedule a free case review.