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What constitutes age discrimination in the workplace?

The longer someone has stayed in the same profession, the better they may be at their job. Professionals often develop industry connections and knowledge over the years. In theory, those who have done the same job for several decades are valuable resources for organizations. Many professionals find that their earning potential is highest in the last years of their careers. Unfortunately, that is not a universal truth.

Some businesses discriminate against older employees despite federal laws prohibiting such practices. Workplace age discrimination can lead to a host of issues, including unfair job loss. What does age discrimination often involve?

Refusing to hire or promote older workers

Companies should not consider a worker’s age if they are over the age of 40 but capable of performing job responsibilities. Unfortunately, many companies intentionally screen out workers who may be older by eliminating resumes that belong to people with old-fashioned names or that use outdated formats. Workers may also find that early enthusiasm on phone calls and emails dissipates when they show up for an in-person interview where their age becomes obvious. Age discrimination freezes out potentially qualified workers from positions that they might perform well.

Allowing hostile work environments

Younger workers can sometimes be downright cruel to older employees. They might make inappropriate comments about someone’s appearance or behavior because of their age. They might even perform practical jokes that endanger someone’s safety or affect their job performance. Companies may not want to punish younger workers involved in this kind of conduct. While a joke or two may not constitute harassment, the creation of a hostile work environment is a serious concern that might demand employer intervention. The failure to prevent and respond to harassment is a form of discrimination.

Limiting workplace opportunities

A company can keep an older worker on staff without giving them the same treatment that others enjoy. For example, someone might find that they no longer receive the best shifts in a customer service position. They might also receive fewer leads in a sales position. Management may no longer include them when starting new projects that could lead to Major opportunities for the people involved.

Someone in the prime of their career may struggle to gain opportunities that were reasonably accessible to them just a few years prior. Age discrimination can affect someone’s finances and even their mental health. Holding a business accountable for age discrimination can inspire a company to change its practices and compensate those harmed by workplace misconduct.