Age Discrimination in the Workplace

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February 09, 2022
Author: Lorman Education

What is Age Discrimination?

Millennials and Gen Z are common targets of age discrimination. They might experience a perceived lack of respect from their older coworkers or harmful stereotypes. 

Reverse age discrimination, on the other hand, is a type of age discrimination lodged against a dominant or majority group. In this case, older workers can be discriminated against due to generational misperceptions. 

As with most types of discrimination, age discrimination can impact employee satisfaction and turnover. In some cases, it also poses a legal liability. Age discrimination is clearly prohibited under federal laws like the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). Those who experience age discrimination may wish to consult with a lawyer about asserting their civil rights in a court of law. A company may face penalties and fines if it engages in age discrimination.

Examples of Age Discrimination

Reduced benefits, reduced salary, loss of respect, loss of promotions and increased workload demand are just some of the ways in which a company can engage in age discrimination. In some cases, an individual may not receive a new job solely due to his or her age. 

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)

Every company should train employees in the basics of the ADEA. If employees understand the basic forms of age discrimination, they may be less likely to unwittingly engage in this discrimination. They may be more conscious of their statements and jokes in regards to age in the workplace. Companies may also want to post the terms of the ADEA in a public area within an office or corporate building. This can ensure that all employees have the opportunity to view the ADEA and understand its terms.

The ADEA essentially prohibits ageism in the workplace. It specifically forbids the exclusion of applicants or employees from positions on the sole basis of their age. Currently, the ADEA only protects employees who are 40 to 70 years old.

Several cases, such as General Dynamics Land Sys., Inc. v. Cline, have made their way to the Supreme Court and have challenged the current age limits of the ADEA. These Supreme Court cases seek to expand the age limitations currently imposed by the ADEA. Young members of the workplace are pushing back and asserting that the ADEA should provide stronger protections against reverse age discrimination.

Overcoming and Preventing Age Discrimination

Companies can take an active stance against age discrimination by hiring employees of all ages. If an employee has the qualifications for a position, he or she should be hired regardless of age. A diverse workplace is a first sign that a company does not discriminate against individuals on the basis of age.

Companies must be aware of the treatment of all employees in the workplace. Before making a hiring or promotion decision, managers should ensure that the decision is not being made on the sole basis of age. In addition, companies should try to provide equal benefits to older and younger workers in order to avoid a potential violation of the ADEA. 

For more information

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