People are working longer than ever – and cases of age discrimination in the workplace are on the rise.
But what is age discrimination in the workplace, and how can you tell if it’s happening to you?
Here’s what you need to know.
What is Age Discrimination in the Workplace?
Age discrimination is an illegal practice. It involves discriminating against someone because of his or her age, which translates to unfair treatment or less favorable treatment in the workplace. The person discriminated against can be a job applicant or a longtime employee – or someone in between.
Age discrimination is illegal in any aspect of employment, including:
- Job assignments
- Any other terms or conditions of employment
What Laws Protect People From Age Discrimination?
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act, or ADEA, forbids age discrimination – and it’s a federal law. There are other laws, too, based on more specific instances, such as Section 188 of the Workforce Investment Act of 1988. In California, the Fair Employment and Housing Act, or FEHA, protects workers who are over the age of 40 as well.
Related: What is FEHA?
How Can You Tell if You’ve Been Discriminated Against Because of Your Age?
It can be tough to tell if you’re the victim of age discrimination – unfortunately, it’s not always easy to spot. (Most employers know that they can’t just walk up to someone and say, “We’re letting you go because we think you’re too old to fit in with our company culture.”)
However, there are some signs you can watch for to spot age discrimination. These may be indicators that you’re being discriminated against (and signs 9 through 12 pertain only to job applicants):
- You’re passed up for promotion in favor of a less-qualified, but younger, candidate
- You hear comments based on your age (especially from your boss), which can include questions about when you’re going to retire
- Your company starts offering older workouts buyouts
- Your company is firing older employees quickly and replacing them with younger workers
- Your boss gives some of your workload – or even your special projects – to younger employees, even when you’re doing just fine performance-wise
- Your performance reviews are suddenly poor, without your work having changed in quality
- You stop getting raises, but you see younger coworkers who had similar years to yours getting raises
- You’re reassigned to more unpleasant duties, as if your employer is trying to get you to quit
- You attempt to apply for a job online and the drop-down menus that offer dates only go back to the 1980s (including those for birth dates or work experience)
- You attempt to apply for a job online and cannot skip the “Birth Date” field or leave it blank or your application will not be processed
- You see a job listing that states a preference for “digital natives,” which means people who grew up somewhere on the Information Superhighway
- A job application has questions that pertain to your age, such as “Can you work for a manager who’s younger than you?”
While these aren’t definite signs of age discrimination, they’re definitely good indicators that it might be going on. Unfortunately, the forms of age discrimination most workers face is very subtle – but if you suspect you’re being discriminated against, there may be something you can do about it.
Related: Age discrimination laws in California
Infographic: Fast Facts on Age Discrimination in the Workplace
What to Do if You’re a Victim of Age Discrimination in the Workplace
If you’ve been the victim of age discrimination in the workplace, you need to know that the law is on your side. You have the right to pursue a claim – but before you do, you may want to discuss the issue with your employer. You can talk to a supervisor you trust or go directly to your company’s Human Resources department, and you can use your company’s established system for filing complaints.
You may also want to talk to an employment lawyer who understands what you’re going through.
Do You Need to Talk to an Employment Attorney Who Understands Age Discrimination in the Workplace?
If you’ve been the victim of age discrimination in the workplace, we may be able to help you. Call us right now at 818-918-3876. We’ll ask you some questions about what’s happening and we’ll answer your questions, as well – and if you have a case, we’ll pursue it aggressively to get you the outcome you deserve.