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EEOC numbers show ageism is alive and well in U.S.

Recently released figures from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission indicate that a certain form of discrimination is still alive and well in workplaces throughout the nation despite efforts by advocacy groups to change perceptions and challenge employers.

The discrimination in question isn't race, gender or religion, but rather age. Indeed, the EEOC received a whopping 20,588 charges of age discrimination last year, nearly 4,000 less from 2008's all-time high of 24,582, but still considerably more than the 17,837 from 2004.

One of the primary reasons why age discrimination remains so prevalent in both the hiring and firing process, say experts, is that baby boomers aren't quite ready to leave the workforce.

Indeed, these experts indicate that many boomers have recently seen their retirement accounts take a major hit and/or the other benefits that they would otherwise rely on in retirement (perhaps via pension plans) greatly diminished.

In other words, faced with less money than they require and the prospect of living another 20-30 years, many are choosing to keep working out of sheer necessity.

Problems have arisen, however, as many employers are now choosing to go with millennials as opposed to these boomers, believing they somehow know more about technology, are more productive and can be paid less.

According to advocates, however, these are nothing more than dangerous stereotypes and potential violations of the Age Discrimination Employment Act of 1967, which expressly prohibits discriminating against people 40 and older.

As discouraging as all this sounds, advocates do believe that this reality can change if older people understand that they have rights and take the necessary steps to enforce them, whether reporting age discrimination to the appropriate officials at work or speaking with an experienced legal professional about their options for holding employers accountable.

Given that a 2013 survey by the AARP found that nearly two-thirds of 1,502 adults between the ages of 45 to 74 indicated that they had either been victimized by ageism or seen it in practice, here's hoping we start to see change sooner than later. 

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