Too old to be hired, too young to retire

Age discrimination is alive and well. Employees exist in a culture where the founder of Facebook was quoted as saying "Young people are just smarter." A cosmetic surgeon in Silicon Valley, CA said that it is becoming more and more common for people in their 20s to come in, terrified that they might be perceived by their company as "old."

Recognizing age discrimination can be tricky. Especially in the realm of technology where sometimes the younger employees may well be more in tune with the trends than their older counterparts. It's important to distinguish between true age discrimination and a difference in skill sets and knowledge.

Age discrimination cases can be difficult to prove. The EEOC, or U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination and states that for age-related lawsuits, the standard of proof is extremely high. The employee must show that age, and nothing else, was the factor that "tipped the scales."

Because of this, it is critical to create a written record of any and all actions that may be seen as age discrimination. Write down as much detail as possible including times, dates, and places. If possible write down the names of any witnesses who may be able to corroborate the incident.

If you have been part of what appears to be an age-related round of layoffs or firings, write down the names and ages of everyone who was let go. Also, be sure to note the names of younger and less-qualified employees who were kept on.

If you believe you have been the victim of age discrimination, you may wish to meet with an employment attorney. An employment attorney will be knowledgeable about the employment laws in your state and will be able to advise you of your rights.

Facing the loss of a career is heartbreaking under the best of circumstances. If you have lost your career and your livelihood not due not to your company going under or because of moving out of state, but due to age discrimination, it can feel like a double blow. By working with an attorney, you may be able to find a way to help ease the sting and pursue the next phase of your life.

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