Age discrimination in the workplace persists in the U.S. despite tremendous progress made in labor laws, diversity and inclusion efforts and increasing awareness about equal-opportunity employment.
Age discrimination, also known as ageism, occurs when individuals are treated unfairly due to their age. It can affect younger and older employees, but older workers tend to be more susceptible to its negative consequences.
Why does age discrimination persist?
One of the primary reasons that age discrimination has not yet been eradicated in the workplace is the prevalence of stereotypes and biases about older workers. These stereotypes often include perceptions of older employees as:
- Less adaptable
- Less tech-savvy
- Less innovative
Additionally, employers may discriminate based on age to cut labor costs. Due to their longer service, older employees may command higher salaries and better benefits, making them targets for cost-cutting measures.
In some industries, there is a preference for younger employees due to the perception that they can more effectively bring the following to the table:
- Fresh ideas
- Lower salary expectations
Finally, organizations may undervalue the importance of age diversity in the workplace, leading to unintentionally discriminatory practices.
The consequences of age discrimination
Age discrimination can result in severe consequences for individuals. For starters, older employees may miss out on promotions and career growth opportunities. Additionally, discrimination leads to lower job satisfaction and can significantly impact mental health. Unequal treatment can also result in reduced income and financial hardship. Not to mention that forced early retirement can impact an individual’s retirement plans and financial security.
With that said, employees should know that employers who engage in age discrimination can be held accountable for their actions. Moreover, by discriminating against older employees, organizations can lose valuable experience and institutional knowledge. Therefore, as an older professional who knows their value, you shouldn’t endure age discrimination when you can choose to take legal action and hold your organization accountable instead.
Age discrimination in the workplace is a pervasive issue that continues to affect individuals whose value is undermined. If this is your current predicament, this is your cue to seek legal guidance. A legal professional can guide you through your rights, options and increase your odds of favorable outcomes.