Age Discrimination in Hiring: Everything You Need to Know, Including How to Fight It

Learn how to identify age discrimination in the workplace and how to fight it.
Age Discrimination

Age discrimination occurs when a person is denied a job, promotion, or other benefits simply because of his or her age. Age discrimination typically affects workers aged 40 or older, and as the workforce ages, it is becoming a larger issue.

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Fortunately, age discrimination is easy to recognize and easy to prove – and numerous laws are prohibiting it. Read on to learn how you can deal with age discrimination in the workplace.

What is Age Discrimination in Hiring?

As many workers over the age of 40 will tell, age discrimination is real. Some employers do try to discriminate on the basis of age, even though it’s blatantly illegal to do so.

According to federal (and some state) legislation, it is illegal for an employer to discriminate on the basis of age when hiring, paying, promoting, giving out raises, or laying people off. Most ages discrimination laws apply to all employers that have 20 employees or more.

With a few exceptions, mandatory retirement ages are also illegal. That means that a company can’t force older workers to retire when they reach a certain age.

You should also know that when you’re applying for a job, a prospective employer cannot ask you for your age. You also cannot be forced to provide any other information that might give away your age, such as when you graduated from high school or college.

Legally, there are several different types of age discrimination, including:

  • Workplace discrimination. This is the most common type of age discrimination, where older workers are subject to harassment, pay cuts, and layoffs based on their age.
  • Position-based discrimination. This type of workplace discrimination occurs when a qualified older worker is passed over for a position in favor of a younger worker at a lower level of pay. Employers sometimes do this to avoid paying higher salaries to older, more experienced employees. This type of discrimination also includes those instances where an employer hires a younger, less qualified worker over an older, more qualified one.
  • Reverse age discrimination. Sometimes age discrimination works the other way when an employer discriminates against a younger worker in favor of an older one.

If you’ve lost a job or promotion to a younger competitor, or discover a younger co-worker is getting opportunities you aren’t, you may be a victim of age discrimination.

Age Discrimination Facts

Older workers need to know what they’re dealing with, so here are some relevant age discrimination statistics:

  • According to AARP, most people believe age discrimination starts when workers hit their 50s – although 22 percent say it can even affect people in the 30s and 40s.
  • Age discrimination may go hand in hand with gender discrimination. While 57 percent of older men say they face age discrimination at work, 72 percent of women say they’re discriminated against because of their age.
  • The most common type of age discrimination involves not getting hired for a new job. The second most common is getting passed over for a promotion because of age.
  • In addition to these existing laws prohibiting age discrimination in the workplace, 8 out of 10 Americans aged 50 and older say they want stronger age discrimination laws.

How to Combat Age Discrimination

To avoid being a victim of age discrimination, you need to act and work like your younger colleagues. Don’t give employers any excuse, legitimate or otherwise, to pass you by in favor of someone younger.

When you’re applying for a new job, give the impression that you’re excited about the new position and ready to hit the ground running. Regardless of age, employers like energetic workers who plan to spend many productive years with the company. Be that person.

Equally important, you need to keep up on all the latest trends, especially technology-related issues. Volunteer for training courses to stay up-to-date and make sure you can use all the latest apps and systems. Don’t let the young people get the better of you in a changing environment. Show your willingness to stay on top of things and keep learning.

When you’re up for a performance review, be proactive about asking for feedback. You don’t want to let any age-related performance issues sneak up on you. Address any issues that might arise – and be aware of any signs your employer is discriminating against you because you’re older.

Finally, you need to know your rights. If you feel you’ve been a victim of age discrimination, there are legal actions you can take.

What to Do If You’ve Been Discriminated Against

It is illegal for employers to discriminate against workers or job applicants on the basis of age. In addition to any relevant state or local age discrimination laws, there are several important pieces of federal legislation that protect your rights as an older job applicant:

  • The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) protects job applicants and employees aged 40 and older from hiring or wage discrimination on the basis of age.
  • The Age Discrimination Act of 1975 prohibits age discrimination in programs and activities that receive federal assistance.
  • The Older Workers Benefit Protection Act of 1990 (OWBPA) amends the ADEA to ban employers from denying specific benefits to employees over 40.
  • Section 188 of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA) prohibits age discrimination in programs and activities with WIA Title I financial assistance.

The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) handles all charges of discrimination for age and other factors. In 2017 (the last year for which statistics are available), the EEOC recorded 18,376 charges of age discrimination, which accounted for more than 20% of all discrimination charges received.

If you feel you are a victim of age discrimination, you can file a charge with the EEOC. You can also lodge a grievance with the company’s HR department or hire a lawyer to file an age discrimination lawsuit against the company – although that can be expensive. However you choose to proceed, make sure you have documented all the facts regarding your case.

Let Mapertunity Help You Get Hired

If you’re looking for a new position, let Mapertunity help. Mapertunity is the world’s first fully transparent, interactive job map. We help people find the right job in the right location – no matter your age.

When a new job is in your future, contact us at Mapertunity! We’re here to help.

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Lonnie Ayers

On a mission to help every job seeker find a job. Co-inventor of mapertunity, the most advanced graphical job search tool in existence. A 21st century tool for jobs and businesses.

About Mapertunity

Welcome to Mapertunity, a new way of posting jobs and finding jobs. We are on a mission to help every single person and every single business find each other, and then put them to work.

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