How To Tackle Age Discrimination In The Workplace

Posted by Ridhi Arora on March 19th, 2019

Has your boss ever queried your competency with new technology? Has someone at work hinted it might be time to retire? If you’re aged 40 or over, then you may have been the subject of age discrimination at work. We’re familiar with the importance of tackling discrimination based on race, gender, sexuality or religion, but many people don’t realize that older workers can suffer age discrimination in the workplace—it’s often very subtle. Whether you’re an employee, a manager, or a business owner, it’s vital to know what kinds of ageism can be present in the workplace so you can avoid them. However, it’s equally important to know about the significant advantages of hiring older workers.

What is age discrimination?

Age discrimination is defined as any treatment that questions someone’s ability to do their job based solely on their age. This could include promoting a less qualified person simply because they’re younger, hiring a younger person because their wages are lower, or expecting that older workers can’t learn new things quickly. If your company employs more than 20 people, they must follow the state and federal laws against age discrimination in the workplace. There are a few exceptions (e.g. earlier retirement age in the fire service), but in the main, older workers are protected against ageism by law.

Some examples of age discrimination in the workplace

So, what kind of discrimination are we talking about? Of course, there’s a whole range of behaviors that can be classed as ageism, ranging from actions with a serious impact on someone’s job through to so-called “minor” acts of discrimination such as prejudicial remarks. Sometimes, companies mistakenly believe that younger workers cope better with new tasks, are more flexible in their working patterns, and that “new blood” brings fresh ideas to the company. If younger employees are hired over older applicants for those reasons, that counts as discrimination. If internal promotions, senior management roles, or strategic executive positions are only given to younger people, this could also be viewed as discriminatory behavior. If lay-offs are needed and the company dismisses older workers whilst keeping younger ones, this is also ageism.

Some companies try to avoid keeping older workers on because they think labor costs (e.g. health insurance) will rise, or because they worry that older workers will more frequently need to time off for ill health. They may discriminate by implying older people can’t manage manual handling complicated computer programs, or make derogatory comments like “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Older workers may find they’re being maneuvered into retirement although there’s no set age for retirement. But the only occasion when age can lawfully be used as a requirement for the job is for a very specific role—for example, in the case of a child actor.

What can be done to tackle age discrimination at work?

Firstly, employers and workers need to know their rights and responsibilities, so that employers can root out discrimination, and workers can recognize when they’re being discriminated against. If there’s an open and honest atmosphere in which employees can share any problems with management without fear of reprisal, this environment goes a long way towards wiping out poor behavior. Some workplaces provide training for all staff about examples of age discrimination and how to avoid it. Meanwhile, the very best workplaces give the problem a high profile and encourage everyone to heighten their awareness, promptly reporting the issue so they can be dealt with as quickly as possible. Ultimately, if workers feel they’ve suffered from discrimination, they can seek legal advice to learn about their options.

The benefits of hiring older workers

There’s a host of reasons why hiring and retaining older workers is a good thing. They’ve had plenty of life experience and are generally more settled by this time in their lives, so they’re more likely to stay committed to the company and appreciate their role within it. In addition, they’re used to the key responsibilities of working, such as punctuality, reliability, and dependability. They’ve also got a wealth of experience to share, so they can take on management roles more easily and mentor younger workers. They often have greater self-confidence and can view problems openly—perhaps finding innovative solutions as a result.

In sum, older workers have legal protection against discrimination, but many employers overlook the very real benefits older workers can bring to the company. Employing mature workers makes sound business sense as well as giving all employees the respect they deserve.

Author Bio: Ridhi Arora is a resident writer for 9apps vidmate

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Ridhi Arora

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Ridhi Arora
Joined: March 18th, 2019
Articles Posted: 40

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