While the COVID-19 pandemic has led to some older workers taking early retirement, many others remain on the job. They have a living to make, a family that depends on them and bills to pay. However, certain companies do not value experienced and older workers, mistreating them and, occasionally, kicking them to the curb.
Age discrimination rears its ugly head from time to time in work environments, and employees who are victims should do their best to expose their employer. How does age discrimination emerge in the workplace? Some ways include being passed over for a promotion, and a demotion or termination to clear the way for younger, lower-paid employees.
Federal law protects workers
In 2020, U.S. workers filed nearly 14,200 claims of age discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). It marked the fifth year in a row that such claims had declined. Statistics dating back to 1997 showed that age discrimination claims with the EEOC peaked in 2008 with nearly 24,600 filings.
Despite the challenges in fighting age discrimination, workers should know that federal law is on their side. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 protects workers who are 40 years of age and older from being ousted or demoted due to age. The law makes it illegal for employers to discriminate in work matters such as hiring, training, assignments, promotions, pay and benefits. However, loopholes have limited the law, which also lost some of its bite due to U.S. Supreme Court rulings through the years.
Difficult to prove
Age discrimination is difficult to prove. Employers do their best to conceal any defining moments that would show the company made blatant and hostile decisions in getting rid of older workers. Instead, employers claim reasons such as reorganization and cost-cutting in making their decisions.
In reality, these companies target workers who are 50 and older – the ones who often make the most money and have the best benefit plans. While employees of any gender face age discrimination on the job, women are confronted with this issue most often.
If you are the victim of age discrimination related to your employment, understand that federal law is on your side. Your legal battle will lay the path for others in a similar position.