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Discrimination Against Young Workers in the Workplace

REPOST ARTICLE SOURCE: http://smallbusiness.chron.com/discrimination-against-young-workers-workplace-46927.html

 

images (2)Age may be just a number, but for some younger employees, it often does not feel that way. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, young people between the ages of 20 and 24 have the highest unemployment rate for adults in the U.S. as of April 2012. The rate is 13.2 percent. For people between the ages of 25 and 34, the rate is 8.1 percent. Discrimination against young employees in small businesses is due to several factors.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) came into law in 1967. The law only protects people over the age of 40 from age discrimination. An employer cannot fire a person because he is older, nor can the older worker be given less pay or denied benefits. Under the law, business owner and employers can favor older works over younger workers. It is also legal for companies to advertise for older workers instead of younger ones under the ADEA. The law may not directly impact some small businesses, because it only applies to businesses that have more than 20 employees.

Last In, First Out

A “Last In, First Out” policy protects businesses from age discrimination lawsuits, while at the same time discriminating against younger workers. It does not matter if a young worker is more valuable to her company than an older worker who has more seniority. The younger worker is more likely to be laid off if a “Last In, First Out” policy is in place, simply because she has not been with the company for as long. A small business that wants to hire and keep the best people should consider keeping or letting go of employees based on their skills and loyalty, not the length of their employment.

Perceptions

Perceptions of younger employees can work against them. According to a 2012 study conducted by the UK Department of Work and Pensions, co-workers and employers tended to view older people as more friendly and more competent than workers in their 20s. Younger workers are also often seen as more demanding by some employers, which works against them. Some younger workers expect flexible schedules and time off, which may be difficult for small businesses to give. Another reason for discrimination against younger worker may be their apparent lack of responsibility. According to Dana Mattoli of the “Wall Street Journal,” younger workers who do not have children or family obligations are easier for businesses to lay off compared to employees who need to support a family.

Combatting Discrimination

Young employees can work against discrimination. If a young worker is hired by a small business, she can show her devotion and loyalty to the business by taking on the tasks no one else wants to do, by continually developing her skills and education and by finding a mentor within the company. Her mentor could be the owner of the business, depending on the size of the business and the schedule of the owner. Younger workers who show that they are committed to the business are less likely to be put aside based on their age and experience level.

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