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Age Discrimination in the Workplace – Ageism Brings Gray Hair to Unemployed

Holly Hicks,

Age Discrimination in the Workplace

Age Discrimination in the Workplace

Ageism Brings Gray Hair to Unemployed

Ageism in the workplace is rampant. In a society where youthfulness is coveted and the beauty industry rakes in billions of dollars for potions and cover-ups for those dreaded wrinkles, and thousands flock to the salon to cover up graying hair, it is no surprise that a disproportionate amount of those considered “old” by today’s standards (over 40 years) are laid off or denied jobs.

The hard truth is that employers often stereotype older people. They think that because of their age, they will need more absences due to medical problems, or that they won’t be productive since they are close to retirement. They also think about how the cost of health insurance will be more if they add that gentleman from the baby boomer age, or if they will cost too much to hire considering their decades of experience.

Whether employers do this intentionally or not, ageism is illegal not to mention unfair, since older folks are generally more reliable and have much more experience than their younger competitors. Before you go dying your gray hair again, heed these warning signs that you may be facing age discrimination.

  • Your boss makes comments such as “old man,” or tells you that they are looking for a “younger image.”
  • They noticeably treat younger employees with more respect than you, or they have just recently laid off all the older folks.
  • They overlook you for a promotion for a younger employee, even though you were a better fit for it.
  • You look around and there are no employees your age: they only hire young employees, or they have just laid off all of them.
  • They attempt to discipline you, even if younger employees do the same thing – they may be trying to have an excuse to let you go.

So what can you do about this obvious workplace ageism? It is difficult to go to court without evidence, so if you feel that you are being discriminated against due to your birth date, then begin writing down the instances and specific comments. Record them if you can. Note any harassment, they could be trying to get you to quit. Even jokes made for fun can be offensive, so jot those down, too, and let them know that you don’t appreciate it.

Start reading up on local/state laws about discrimination so you are well aware of the deadlines for filing claims; many legal stuff have deadlines and requirements to go through. Make sure you always read carefully and hire a lawyer if things get too overwhelming. In the mean time, make a file with your written evidence, as well as CDs of audio or video if you can get them; the more evidence the better.

What agencies can help you? Start local, first. You can file a discrimination claim with the EEOC, or you can file a harassment claim with HR if you are being harassed. If you have already been laid off and can point the reasons due to ageism, you can hire an employment lawyer – they will at least be able to get you a better severance package.

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