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What constitutes age discrimination in professional environments?

On Behalf of | Mar 12, 2021 | Employment Discrimination |

Discrimination comes in many different forms. People can face unfair treatment because of personal factors that they have no control over, like their race or their gender. Federal employment law prohibits businesses from discriminating against workers for certain protected characteristics.

Along with discrimination based on sex, religion, racial background, country of origin and medical condition, discrimination based on age is also against federal law. In an employment environment, people sometimes allege that they are victims of age discrimination without actually understanding what it is.

Younger workers typically cannot claim age discrimination

According to federal law, age discrimination protection only applies to workers who are 40 years or older. It is not necessarily discriminatory for companies to look for more experienced and therefore older  workers. However, it is discriminatory for them to consider age in a negative light when hiring, promoting, providing opportunities for advancement, or in other decisions around a person’s employment.

Denying older workers opportunities can take many forms. Sometimes, companies use language in their job ads to stop older workers from applying, such as looking for “high energy”, “vibrant”, “active”, etc. Employees may also face hostile work environments if other workers harass them for their age or appearance.  Comments such as “pick up the pace”, “when are you going to retire”, or comments related to being paid too much can all lead to claims of harassment.  Businesses may discriminate against their existing workers by denying them advancement opportunities or finding a reason to terminate them.

Workers over the age of 40 might find that they have a hard time finding new employment opportunities or that their company ceases to offer them raises and chances for promotions.

If you believe that you have experienced workplace discrimination because of your age, you may have grounds for a discrimination case. An experienced attorney can provide valuable guidance.