As you grow older, it’s normal to encounter more challenges. But one of them shouldn’t be age discrimination in the workplace. Age discrimination is a pervasive problem that can make you feel frustrated, hopeless and angry — and rightly so. Employers violate your right to fair employment when they enforce age discrimination. But what exactly is age discrimination, and how can you spot the signs?
Defining age discrimination
Age discrimination involves poor or unfair treatment of a job applicant or employee because of their age. It can appear in any condition of employment, such as hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, training, promotions or benefits.
Statistics show that nearly two out of three workers have experienced age discrimination at work. And while the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) protects job seekers and employees who are 40 years or older, employers often violate this act because they feel they can take advantage of older employees.
Signs of age discrimination
Since age discrimination is so common, victims often don’t realize it’s happening until it’s too late. If you recognize any of the following signs, you might be a victim of age discrimination:
- Seeing an influx of younger employees: If you begin to notice a pattern of hiring younger employees, it may be a sign of age discrimination. Exclusively hiring young people often means the company wants younger workers to promote a “better” or “fresher” image while working for less money.
- Receiving unpleasant duties: Your employer might begin reassigning unpleasant or mundane tasks to you if they want to replace you or force you to quit. This often includes tasks that you are overqualified for or that insult your intelligence or capabilities.
- Missing out on raises or promotions: When you had a successful work performance, but your boss denies you a raise or promotion you thought you qualified for, it may be a sign of age discrimination, especially when there are no apparent reasons not to give it to you.
- Overhearing age-related comments or insults: Whether they’re direct or indirect, comments, questions or insults about your age might be a warning sign that you are facing age discrimination. This might even be as harmless as your boss asking you when you are thinking of retiring.
If you believe you have experienced unlawful age discrimination on the job, don’t be afraid to speak out. Employers have no right to punish you based on age-related reasons. You might benefit from consulting with an experienced employment law attorney who can help you fight for your case.