The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 makes it unlawful for employers, in Pennsylvania and throughout the country, to discriminate against individuals 40 years of age or older. Under the ADEA, employers and labor unions cannot refuse to hire or admit, an employee or prospective employee based on age, unless “age is a bona fide occupational qualification.” Notwithstanding this law, older employees often face bias in the workplace, particularly in the technology field.
Individuals under the age of 40 often perceive that older people are unsophisticated with computers and other technology. This could explain why the average age for tech workers and managers is five years lower than the average age for non-tech workers and managers. The mentality in the tech industry is particularly detrimental to older employees looking for work in the age of COVID-19, where remote jobs are on the rise.
Though supervisors and employees may stand to gain from age discrimination training, generic workplace discrimination training materials are generally not enough to teach employers the best hiring practices. When hiring new employees, employers should look at the applicant’s skill set and determine whether an applicant who is seemingly less tech-savvy has other assets and would benefit from training. Older employees often have transferrable “soft” skills, like communication and problem-solving, and employers willing to train employees unfamiliar with certain technology programs, such as web design, may benefit from hiring a more experienced employee.
Last year, the AARP reported that age discrimination is considered the “last acceptable bias” in the workplace and found that age discrimination continues to be prevalent. Individuals who feel that they have been discriminated against in terms of pay, promotions, or hiring may want to consult with a plaintiff-side employment attorney who understands the ADEA.