Most people know that workplace discrimination based on race, gender, disability, national origin or religion is illegal. Age discrimination is also illegal, though it is increasingly prevalent and less frequently reported than other types of discrimination.
Although many people admit to having experienced age discrimination in their current or past employment, most hesitate to report it, assuming it would be too difficult to prove. Some employers believe that disguising age discrimination makes it acceptable, but this behavior is still illegal.
Job postings rarely state that only individuals of a particular gender may apply because of obvious discrimination. However, it is not uncommon to find employment ads recruiting “technology natives,” for example, meaning that they have used technology all of their lives. Unfortunately, that excludes many qualified candidates and suggests they are only interested in hiring younger people.
Some employers overlook seasoned professionals for promotions because of their shorter employment horizons, even though they may be more skilled than their younger colleagues. Not only is this an illegal practice, but it is also short-sighted. Older and more experienced employees can provide invaluable insight to the next generation.
Older employees are often at the top of the layoff list and among the last to be re-hired after an economic downturn since they typically make more money than younger employees. This type of behavior represents an illegal and prohibited employment practice when age is the only factor.
Age discrimination in the workplace is often the result of stereotyping older employees as resistant to change, less computer savvy and unable to learn new things. The flaw in this thinking is that employees not born into technology have had to learn and change many times throughout their careers, likely more so than their younger counterparts.