What do you think of when you hear the words “age discrimination” in reference to the workplace? Probably an older, highly experienced, qualified employee being shunted aside in favor of a much younger, less-well-credentialed person due largely to one’s age versus the other’s youth.
But it can also refer to something like a drumbeat of snide comments, crude name-calling or pointed wisecracks made to you by co-workers or managers about age-related topics. Those jibes can make you feel belittled or humiliated. It is demoralizing, especially when it happens in front of others.
Why does age harassment happen so often?
This type of behavior is called age harassment. It’s against the law, yet it apparently takes place with disturbing frequency. According to the AARP, results of their national research in 2018 showed that roughly one person in every four was targeted at work by somebody making age-connected, derogatory statements.
One theory about why this happens so much is that employers may not train their staff about how unacceptable age-based comments are in the same rigorous way they do regarding comments about gender or race.
What recourse do you have?
What you are being subjected to is uncomfortable and unwelcome, but federal law ”limits the damages victims can seek” under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).
One alternative strategy you can try, AARP suggests, is to prove that your workplace atmosphere has become so oppressive and toxic that “a reasonable person” would leave their job to escape it.
Yet another tactic is to sue in state court. You can also write down all the incidents that take place and present them to your human resources department. If that is unsuccessful, you can contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Don’t give up. No one should be harassed, insulted or demeaned at work for any reason, including their age. Find out more about what you can do to make your voice heard and put a stop to it.