“Age discrimination remains a significant and costly problem for workers, their families and our economy.” These are the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC’s) words in a 2018 report on ageism fifty years after the 1967 Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) outlawed it.
What does age discrimination at work look like?
Few employers are careless enough to tell you that you are too old directly. However, they may demonstrate their ageist attitudes by their actions or words such as:
- Overlooking you for a promotion: Choosing someone younger than you who is less qualified and experienced.
- Telling jokes: “This is John. He started with the company back when Abraham Lincoln was president.”
- Making comments that reflect stereotypes: “I’ve given this task to Jane, as millennials understand these things better.”
The more evidence you have to support a claim for age discrimination, the better. That does not mean you should let the behavior continue for years. The law only considers age discrimination an issue once you reach 40 years old. If you work for a tech company, however, you might feel they start treating you as old once you hit 30.
What can I do to stop age discrimination?
Sometimes, the simplest option is to bring the subject up with the person doing the discriminating when it happens. Like many forms of discrimination, many people do not realize they are doing it.
Beware that age discrimination can be challenging to prove. An employer who overlooks you for a promotion might argue they made their choice based on other factors rather than how old you are. However, if you believe your employer is discriminating against you because of your age, you can determine what legal options are available to stop it or to seek compensation.