You may accept the number of candles on your birthday cake with grace and humor. After all, growing older is one of those facts of life you can't change, so keeping a good attitude is important. However, you may grow weary of the subtle comments about your age from co-workers.
Perhaps your younger colleagues assume you are not tech savvy because you are over 40. Maybe they never miss an opportunity to point out your graying hair or to make joking references about TV ads for products marketed to senior citizens. While you try to be a good sport about the jokes, it may be no laughing matter if your employer discriminates against you because of your age.
What does ageism look like?
Age discrimination is among one of the most common violation of workers' rights in Oregon and across the country. Often, acts of ageism are subtle and reflect a wider philosophy about the value of youth over experience. You may find it difficult to prove you are a victim of ageism. However, you may suspect that your employer or work environment promotes age discrimination if you recognize any of the following behaviors from your employer or co-workers:
- Passing remarks that describe you as being set in your ways or averse to change
- The hiring of younger staff members to replace older ones who retire or are laid off
- Frequent questions from your supervisor about your plans to retire
- Younger, less-qualified employees receiving promotions for which you are eligible
- New criticism for work that your boss used to praise
Of course, it is not enough to maintain the status quo if you are working with an ever-younger group of co-workers. Like anyone, you cannot become complacent. It is essential to stay current with new technology, passionate about your work and ahead of the trends in your industry. However, it is not fair for your employer to expect more from you than from other workers simply because of your age.
Despite your best efforts to remain relevant in your industry, if an employer terminates you or discriminates against you on the job simply because you are over the age of 40, that employer is violating your rights. This behavior can feel demoralizing, and you may experience even more age discrimination as you go in search of a new job. If you have the education, skills, experience and other qualifications to do the job well, an employer must judge you on those merits alone. Unfortunately, this does not always happen.