Despite advances in education and the enactment of anti-discrimination laws, ageism continues to be an issue in modern society. The American Association of Retired Persons reports that many older American employees have seen or experienced age discrimination on the job.
It is important for workers to recognize the signs of age discrimination so that they can take appropriate action. Federal and state laws protect employees aged 40 to 70 from workplace discrimination, but many cases go unreported because it can be hard to prove.
Employees should watch out for the following:
- When they are not considered for a raise or promotion despite having an exceptional performance
- When they are left out of training and learning opportunities
- When they are advised to take it easy or are excluded from challenging work assignments
- When their age is the subject of rude remarks or jokes
- When they are forced to retire
- When only people their age are laid off
- When they are not included in company activities
What to do if you are facing discrimination
Both job seekers and current employees may experience age discrimination. Older employees wishing to succeed in the modern job market should demonstrate the same or a higher skill level as younger applicants. If older employees have the qualifications and experience to back them up, they may find it easier to prove that their age was the deciding factor in not receiving the promotion or the job.
If an employee faces discrimination because of their age, they should start collecting evidence as soon as possible. Noting the time, place and participants of the incident may be useful. The next step is to reach out to the company with a written report, which acts as official documentation.
Unfortunately, some companies may prefer to do nothing to resolve the situation. In that case, the employee can consult a lawyer or file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the Illinois Department of Human Rights. Depending on the circumstances, the victim of discrimination may receive compensation for their hardship.