You are committed to your work. You are the first one through the door and the last one to leave. Your work ethic is impressive. You are dependable, friendly and people look up to your more than 30 years of experience and wisdom. What if one day it was all gone? Your boss called you into the office to say you are being terminated. What just happened?
Regrettably, you are not alone. According to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), about 64% of respondents said that people older than 50 years old face discrimination in the workplace. And 34% said either they had faced age discrimination themselves or knew someone who had.
But it is illegal.
The law is on your side
According to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, your employer cannot be discriminate against you or other employees based on your ages. This protects those 40 years of age and older. You cannot be looked over for promotions, training, job assignments, pay, layoffs or fringe benefits. You also cannot be harassed by co-workers, customers or supervisors. While teasing is not punishable by law, any of these that create a hostile work environment is considered illegal.
The law varies by state, but most states do protect workers. If you are being fired, you can request a specific reason for termination and challenge the reason and whether discrimination against your age played a part in the decision.
What about job seekers?
Unfortunately, job seekers do not get as much protection. The potential employer does not have to disclose the reason the person was not hired, even if age was a factor. You are more fully covered if you live in California. You have what is called the Fair Employment and Housing Act. It covers you in the workplace and in hiring practices.
What should you do?
So, what can be done? Can you sue the company for firing you? It can be very hard to prove. The standard for age discrimination is harder to prove than gender or race discrimination. If you think you are being discriminated against because of your age, the best thing for you to do is:
- Gather as much evidence as you can. Look out for any memos that possibly say something blatantly discriminatory. Also, document any times you were discriminated against. That includes being looked over for a position or a hostile work environment.
- File your claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). They handle all the age discrimination claims. They will investigate to see if you have cause to believe you were discriminated against or not. Be patient because it may take a while for your claim to be considered.
No one wants to feel like they are not important just because of their age. We all deserve the right to live and work. However, if you feel like you have been the victim of age discrimination and you are not getting any results, you should consider contacting an employment law attorney who could help.