As workers reach their fifties, they start to notice gradual yet noticeable changes in how their employers treat them. The once heavy workload decreases, opportunities to join company activities drop, and their performance is being scrutinized more than ever. Sadly, age discrimination is a common experience for one in four employees over the age of 60 in the United States.
The problem with ageism is that it is not always obvious. Older employees must stay vigilant for any violations of their rights.
What is age discrimination?
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) expressly prohibits discrimination against individuals aged 40 and above. Age discrimination encompasses using age as a determining factor in employment decisions related to hiring, firing, pay, layoffs, promotions, training or job responsibilities.
Similarly, it is illegal to harass an employee because of their age or establish company policies that apply to all employees but have a negative impact on individuals over the age of 40.
Subtle ways employers try to get rid of older employees
Many employers favor younger workers due to misconceptions and biases against older individuals, alongside concerns over costs. Some believe older employees struggle with new technology, demand higher wages and suffer from poorer health.
To sidestep legal consequences, employers may push out older workers under the guise of mergers or downsizing and other indirect tactics, such as:
- Job elimination: When companies face financial strain, they may need to eliminate certain positions. However, removing a senior worker’s role only to provide younger staff with a comparable one may be age discrimination.
- Company layoff: Employers must lay off employees based on nondiscriminatory reasons such as poor work performance. Ageism may be at play if a disproportionate number of older employees are let go.
- Offering incentives for early retirement: With compliance with the law, employers can offer incentives to workers who retire early. However, if termination is the only alternative, it could constitute forced retirement.
- Exclusion from work activities: Isolation can negatively affect employee morale and satisfaction, making them want to resign. Excluding a certain age group from lunches, meetings, training or other activities is discrimination.
- Denying promotion: When employers exclude workers from promotion due to their age but try to pass it off as incompetence.
- Reducing responsibilities: Reducing an employee’s responsibilities or tasks is a common tactic to prepare for that person’s departure.
- Inconsistent disciplinary actions: Penalties that apply only when older workers make mistakes may indicate age discrimination.
No one should endure discrimination, but confronting it alone can be daunting. Securing the services of a lawyer can be an advantage when taking legal action. they can help pave the way for recovering compensation.