When the term “workplace discrimination” comes up, many things may come to mind. You might think of discrimination based on race, gender or sexuality. These are some of the biggest hot button issues socially today.
But what about discrimination based on age? This is a rising issue in the workforce facing many aging workers.
What is ADEA?
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission examines what age discrimination may look like at your work. First, note that it typically applies to workers age 40 and up. This is due to the Age Discrimination Employment Act (ADEA) only protects those over 40. Local laws sometimes cover younger age groups, though.
Next, note that discrimination under ADEA can occur between two people who are over 40. It is also not illegal for an employer to favor older workers over younger ones, even if both said workers are over 40.
What forms does age discrimination take?
Outside of this, age discrimination often takes the form of making offensive or derogatory remarks repeatedly. A one-off incident or light teasing do not fall under ADEA. It is only viewed as harassment if it reaches a point in which the work environment gets disrupted and the worker can no longer accomplish their job.
Age discrimination may also appear in how the worker gets treated by employers or coworkers. For example, they may refuse to promote an older worker due to unfounded “fears” that they cannot do the job capably just because they are older. They may treat a worker as though they are incompetent for the same reason.
If you have faced any such treatment, consider seeking legal help to see what your options are.