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What to know about age discrimination

Age discrimination is when you are treated differently, unfairly, or less favorably because of your age. Age discrimination is common among workplaces as many employees, job seekers, and even trainees are treated differently because of their age. In most cases, it's always about comparing one employee with another 'younger' or 'older' pertinent and comparable employee.

Although over 50 years ago the federal government enacted a law to protect workers against employment discrimination based on age, a study by the San Francisco Federal Reserve in 2015 showed that the problem still persists. Age discrimination particularly in hiring is still rampant and older job seekers are at a higher disadvantage than younger job seekers.

Common examples of age discrimination

Typically, there are four main types of age discrimination. They include:

  • Direct discrimination

This is the most common type of age discrimination. It happens when a person treats you less favorably or worse than another person who is in the same situation as you, just because of your age. A good example in this case is when your employer refuses you to enroll for a training course being offered to other employees in your field because they think you are 'too old' or 'too young' to undertake it. This case would most probably happen to older employees because the employer thinks that they are too old to grasp the teachings of the training course.

  • Indirect discrimination

This happens when a company has certain policies or work plans that apply to everyone but put people of your age group at a disadvantage. For example, when a company has a policy that only individuals with post graduate qualifications such as a Masters degree are eligible for qualification, you find that people in your age group (22 years on average) are left out because they don't have that qualification.

  • Harassment

Harassment occurs when someone makes you feel insulted, embarrassed or degraded. For example, when you are at a training session in your workplace and the trainer keeps commenting on how slow you are at learning the new software package because of your 'older' age. If you find this distressing, it can be considered age-discrimination related harassment.

  • Victimization

This happens when an employee who has made or supported a complaint on age discrimination under the Equality Act is treated unfairly.

If you feel discriminated because of your age, know that you have the right to make a complaint against the offender according to the Equality Act 2010.

Employees are protected under state and federal laws against age discrimination. Were you a victim of discrimination based on your age? You have rights. Speaking with an attorney can help you understand your rights and explore your legal options to stop the discrimination and hold your employer accountable.

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