In 1997, 15,785 age discrimination claims were filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In 2013, a staggering 21,396 claims alleging this type of employment discrimination were filed with the agency. Partially due to these raw numbers and partially due to the stories of affected workers being highlighted by the media, it has become apparent that age discrimination is on the rise in the American workplace.
According to several profiles of older workers recently released by the AARP, it seems that many acts of age discrimination seem to occur with little warning. One month, an older worker is valued for his or her experience and is receiving positive performance reviews. The next month, the same worker is either given an unreasonably difficult workload, is not being invited to meetings or is otherwise being treated in unfair ways. When the worker “fails” to either keep up with unreasonable demand or to fully participate in work-related activities, he or she is slowly phased out.
Many older workers experience these kinds of shifts in their employment but are unsure of how to respond to the ways in which they are being treated. When older workers experience these kinds of red flags, they should consider speaking with an attorney experienced in matters of employment law. He or she can help guide the older worker in responding to this treatment and can help the worker take legal action when necessary.
Age discrimination is generally illegal in the American workplace, but this fact does not always stop this form of mistreatment from occurring. However, the law does protect workers from age discrimination and older workers should not hesitate to fight for their rights when doing so is legally justified.
Source: AARP, “Forced Out, Older Workers Are Fighting Back,” Carole Fleck, May 2014