Job Seeker Blog - Spark Hire

Handling Age Discrimination in the Workplace

A lot of people feel that in this day and age, most of the issues we faced in the past are simply memories floating in the wind of how hard it used to be. Many will state that racism is no longer a huge issue and that discrimination against certain groups has dwindled. The more realistic citizens of this country will tell you that we still have a long way to go and are still trying to cope with discriminatory issues to this day. It seems as though the office setting is where a lot of discrimination still takes place. It can rear its ugly head in passive undertones but can also show up right in front of your face, shameless and ready to ruin your work experience. There are many different types of discrimination in the workplace and over the next few weeks Spark News hopes to cover a good deal of them. However, it’s very important for us to turn our attention to age discrimination in the workplace.

With a rough job market and families still struggling to say afloat, it seems as though the retirement age is slipping further and further back. While it was once said that 60 was an ideal age to retire, I recently read in a news article that the new retirement age is closer to 67. Add seven more years of work to anyone’s life and you will have one hard working person. That’s the reality of it today, though. When the recession first hit, there were many stories of past workers having to come out of retirement in order to meet their bills and live comfortably. Aside from the necessity, many people just fully enjoy their work and want to maintain. Unfortunately in our society many feel that the older you become, the less able you are. If the people that held this view were to see that the older you are, the wiser you are instead then perhaps we would not have this problem. Alas, the added experience and perspectives of older employees often get traipsed over by the younger, easier to mold and cheaper to hire employees. So when age discrimination starts to affect you in the workplace, how can you start to combat it without losing your job?

The Law
The phrase “knowledge it key” may be overused, but it continues to ring true in all facets of life. If you are 40 years or older, and even if you are not, then you should be well aware of what laws have your back. Specifically, the 1967 Age Discrimination and Employment Act that makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against employees that are 40 years or older on certain things. If you feel you are stating to face age discrimination in the workplace, then you should know your rights. This law is concrete for companies that employ over 20 workers, so make sure what your employer is doing is not illegal.

Document Unfair Practices
If you are experiencing age discrimination, then make sure you are making note of it every time it happens. Is it something someone is saying to you, or is it an action? If you find that you work mostly with young adults, then make sure you are challenging stereotypes. If there is some kind of verbal abuse or verbal chiding going on, be sure to address it in a calm and professional manner. Ignoring it will only make it worse, so address it as best you can on your own at first and be sure to document what is going on. That way, you have a number of examples that took place if and when this is brought up to your HR department of manager.

Manager
If approaching this person, or people. directly doesn’t make it stop, then it’s time to go to your manager or superior. Of course, if it is your manager that is discriminating then you have to go to your HR department. When talking to your manager (if they’re not discriminating) tell them what the issue is and see what you guys can do to combat it. This is mainly the job of the manager to take action seeing as though they are the manager. If they are a good manager, then they will address the issue.

If going to your manager doesn’t work, they fail to take action or they are the discriminatory one, then you have to go to the head of your company. If you have and HR department, go there. If not, then go to the top person in the company or the person who is next in charge. Discuss what has happened and where you can go from here. If you spoke with your manager, make light of this and the fact that nothing has happened yet to combat this discrimination.

Lawyer
If you have concrete evidence of age discrimination and nothing is being done, then it is certainly time to see a lawyer. Discrimination is not something that should be taken lightly and putting an end to it is necessary.

EEOC
If all actions made to rectify the situation, then you should file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). They will take a look at the situation and will make the efforts needed to resolve the matter.

Age discrimination, or discrimination of any kind, is not something that should be brushed aside or something you simply have to deal with. It can really take over your work and may in fact be illegal. Know what your rights are and take action against age discrimination right from the start.

Have you experienced age discrimination in the workplace? What did you do to combat it? Tell me about it in the comments or tweet me @nicole_spark. I’d love to here what you have to say.

IMAGE: Courtesy of Cartoon Stock

Nicole Nicholson

Nicole is the Content Editor for Spark Hire and mainly writes for and edits the work for the Spark News blog. She graduated in 2010 with a BA in Journalism from DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois. She has a passion for writing, editing, and pretty much anything to do with content. In her free time she frequents the Chicago music scene and writes reviews on shows for her own personal blog. Connect with Nicole and Spark Hire on Facebook and Twitter