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What is Age Discrimination?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 24 March 2014
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As related to the workplace, age discrimination is the practice of excluding applicants for hire or promotion based on the age of the individual. Often associated with ageism, age discrimination is an approach that takes the focus off skill levels and job competency, and places emphasis on the calendar age of the individual. Here is some information about the two main types of age discrimination, and how this sort of practice can result in a negative impact for both the employer and the employee.

While many people think in terms of age discrimination as it relates to older employees, the fact is that ageism may involve a young employee as well. Age bias has to do with thinking that the calendar age of the individual will in some manner limit the ability of the individual to perform his or her work responsibilities effectively. While there are legal age limits that prohibit persons under a certain age from entering the full time job market, age limitations that are imposed to prevent a young person with the proper work and educational credentials from being considered for a job or position is considered to be unethical and if proven can also be grounds for litigation.

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Of course, the type of age discrimination that receives the most public attention is that of excluding qualified persons from employment opportunities because he or she is older in calendar age. An ageist approach follows the philosophy that an older employee may very well possess the necessary background and job skills, but that they will be much more likely to resist new and supposedly better methods or procedures. Also, there is some concern that the older employee will not be able to provide a term of service that would last long enough for the company to recoup the expenses associated with job training. When age limitation is based on this sort of criteria, the company stands to lose access to what may have been a valuable asset in the ongoing health of the company, as well as running the risk of being cited charged with age discrimination and encountering severe legal issues.

Age discrimination is simply a process that is designed to keep persons within a given age limit, whether younger or older, from being able to participate in employment or in advances within the workplace that he or she is qualified to pursue. While the practice was once fairly common, state and federal laws that specifically prohibit job discrimination, and to a degree have defined what constitutes discrimination based on age, have made it much harder for companies to engage in this type of behavior.

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Discuss this Article

anon257737
Post 13

I work in public education and I am 60 years old. If I am passed over for a promotion, and the board of education, in an interview for the position questions me about my retirement plans, can that be considered a form of age discrimination? I was the senior applicant in years in administration, had years in the school district and have had no negative evaluations.

anon139704
Post 11

Have the shirt altered. Deduct the cost as a employment expense on your taxes. Document. Document. Document.

anon135523
Post 10

I have worked for a company for 13 years and it has become apparent that this well known giant retailer has openly taken a policy to get rid of people with tenure and age.

There is new manager who has come into the DC are as the new receiving manager. He has terminated seven people in about three months for various reasons. All of the reasons I have heard seem bogus.

If you happen to have to take a FMLA and you are out longer than three months, you are terminated, but may be rehired and have to start over from the beginning and that is only after they are required to pass a physical.

I heard a newly hired supervisor (under the age of 40) quip, "Wow that would get rid of a lot of people that have been working here 10 years or more." I am over 50 and I have been written up twice in the last year and am now on a final written warning that stays on my record for a year.

I have been pushed out of my desk job and put out on the floor. I feel I am being targeted to be terminated. Do I have any recourse?

anon131668
Post 9

I am a 57 year-old worker about to be "laid off" after 25 productive years. I am very healthy, fit (recently completed an Ironman competition).

My job skills (ERP software) have been obsoleted by new/different ERP software. Younger workers are being hired, trained on the new software and retained.

My boss told me, point-blank, "you will receive no training". I have been training myself, but self-training with complex software is not efficient, so suddenly the new, younger workers are "qualified" while the older workers are being laid off.

Is this age discrimination? I also see a pattern within this company of older workers being "laid off" in other functions too because their is are not enough assignments for them. Meanwhile, the new, young workers receive the lion's share of assignments. Comments?

anon111846
Post 8

It is possible in some states to file Age Discrimination Lawsuits for those under the age of 40. For the most part Age Discrimination claims are reserved for the protected class of 40 and over.

anon101296
Post 7

anon64538 doesn't know what he/she is talking about. The protected class is people age 40 or greater.

anon71062
Post 6

I'm not particularly sure that it is right to only protect older individuals. i am 18 years old, a legal adult, and was given the job as an assistant manager at my workplace. Due to my age, the owner of the franchise that occasionally visits frequently relates "poor working ethic" to my young age.

It is of great concern to me that he has been listening to someone I do not know about at the job who constantly calls him and reports me falsely.

He has never spoken to me directly about these problems, but instead keeps suggesting to the owner of the store that I be removed from the schedule, and recently I was suspended without any type of notification or previous warnings from him.

As for poor working ethic, I come in to work on time, come in on days I am not scheduled when called in, although it is not a requirement, make sure my job is done correctly, and i am consistently praised by customers, but I still seem to be a horrible employee.

Whenever I am sick (this has only been twice in my year of working at this place) it has been unusually hard for me to get off, although both times I had a serious illness. For other older employees (20-40 range) it is simple, and no one minds, although they are usually not sick, as I have seen firsthand.

The owner of this franchise also told me to my face before he suspended me that i was "immature" although what he was calling me immature about was not my fault at all, and didn't even really involve me. Not only that, but he did not suspend me directly. He had the general manager suspend me for him.

It would be nice to get help because people discriminate against you because you're young, but I guess no one really ever takes the time to notice that even a hard working young person has just as bad of a problem as an older person.

I can relate it to people of my age group being truly immature, but I don't believe I'm the one throwing food around the establishment like the 23 or 24 year olds -- who by the way, do not ever get in trouble like this.

anon64538
Post 5

i don't know who wrote this article but in order to claim age discrimination you must be part of a protected class, which class are workers over the age of 40. otherwise, you do not have a claim.

anon26889
Post 4

If the company does not have a written dress code, then I would feel free to dress in a professional manner. If there is a dress code, and you are required to wear the company issued uniform, then contact the uniform company and request a female version.

All of the major uniform vendors provide female cuts of the majority of the uniforms. Or, you may be able to find a female version of the uniform that you feel better wearing. It may be that the bookkeeper pushed back against the rule and found that if she isn't required to wear a uniform she doesn't have to. Your supervisor may not be as informed.

If you have an HR department or office manager, you may want to double check with him or her as well.

sweetscastle
Post 3

I would take the shirts and have them tailored to fit me. That way you are wearing what they want you to and have a better fit. Or if they fit you long like a dress, put a belt on and wear as dress, or with leggings.

anon21684
Post 2

Dress the way you wish. Unless your job requires a uniform or there is a safety concern, nothing stops you from looking your best. I never pay attention to dress code.

anon18915
Post 1

This may seem foolish to some, but It's a very serious concern of mine. I work for a company that only recently began hiring women. My first day on the job, I was handed a man's khaki work shirt to wear. I am a 55 year old female visual designer, selling furniture. I wasn't happy being expected to dress like a car mechanic, but the other (over 40) woman working there wore one as well, so I didn't complain. Another 40ish woman was recently hired in an executive position, and told to wear the shirt, as well. Everyone that works for this company is expected to wear the khaki work shirt, from the owner, to the warehouse crew.

I know this sounds catty, but a young woman in her twenties was hired about a month ago, and has never been required to wear the ugly man shirt.

She is a book keeper who works closely with the owner, in the front office. Now, as I said, the other women hold executive positions, and work in the front office as well. Only the bookeeper has never been required to wear the man shirt.

I have asked nicely to be exempted from wearing the shirt - it's unprofessional and unattractive. The sales manager, a man 20 years younger than myself, responded by handing me a dozen of the shirts on hangers, size large. When I asked if I could at least have a small size (I wear small women's clothes, and look foolish flapping about in large men's clothes) he responded by telling me it was the better size for me.

It's a new job, I'm paid fairly well. I have been instrumental in increasing the sales numbers dramatically - it's not that I'm a poor employee or a poor sport. In sales, image is important. It's a strange situation. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

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