The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 made it illegal for employers to harass or discriminate against employees because of their age. However, despite the more than 50 years since this act was passed, employees in the later years of their career still experience discriminatory practices. How common is this form of discrimination?
Age discrimination can take many forms.
Because age discrimination is varied—ranging from overt hostility to small comments that create a toxic environment over time—it can be difficult to fully understand how common it is. However, these different forms can be damaging in their own ways.
Passing over older applicants for jobs and promotions or giving older employees less feedback or opportunities for training can limit their ability to continue to build their career. Comments meant as jokes, on the other hand, can wear you down emotionally and make every day a challenge. Some are even pressured to leave jobs in their later years so that younger employees can take those positions.
Statistics show that this harassment and discrimination is very common.
Discrimination often starts before employees are even hired. The New York Times reports that discriminatory hiring practices are very common, making it difficult for older applicants to find employment.
These statistics are even more sobering when you consider that over 50% of workers in their early 50s have been pressured to leave a job or otherwise forced out of the position before they were ready to retire. Many of these employees found it difficult to find a job that offered similar pay and benefits, and many found it challenging to get a new job altogether.
Harassment, too, is common. A survey conducted by AARP shows that a quarter of workers in their late 40s or older are the victims of negative comments by coworkers or supervisors, and the majority of those surveyed had either seen or experienced harassment in their workplace.
If you have been a victim of this illegal harassment or discrimination, there is hope. You can file a claim, hold employers responsible for their discrimination and help other older workers face a more welcoming workplace and job market.