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What behaviors may constitute age discrimination?

On Behalf of | Mar 22, 2024 | Employment Law -- Employee |

Professionals in a variety of different careers can sometimes face inappropriate discrimination from co-workers, employers or third parties. Technically, both state statutes and federal law prohibit discriminatory employment practices.

Despite those laws, discrimination remains an issue in many different industries. The federal government outlines numerous personal characteristics that employers should not consider when deciding who they want to hire, promote or terminate. Race, sex and disability, for example, are all protected characteristics that should not affect someone’s career opportunities.

Age can also be a protected characteristic. In many cases, it might be reasonable for companies to expect a certain level of education or professional experience for certain positions, which would put younger applicants at a disadvantage or rule them out as candidates entirely. However, it is not reasonable in most cases for employers to consider someone’s age when making personnel decisions including hiring, terminations or layoffs. What types of conduct might constitute age discrimination?

Refusing to hire or promote older employees

Those who have years or decades of professional experience have a lot to offer companies. They may be more efficient than workers with less experience and may have connections within the industry that benefit their employers. Despite the likelihood that mature workers might actually be beneficial for a company, some organizations do everything within their power to screen out older candidates and avoid hiring them. Other times, companies with older employees already on payroll may consistently pass over those experienced workers for promotions or projects that could offer advancement opportunities. Older adults should not lose out on employment opportunities solely because of their age.

Allowing harassment in the workplace

Workplace discrimination can sometimes entail a company refusing to protect a worker from the abuses of their teammates or supervisor. If the work environment is negative enough that the average person would view it as hostile, then the worker may have reason to claim that they have faced discrimination. Other times, if the average person would agree that accepting abusive behavior on the basis of one’s age seems to be a condition of continued employment, that might justify allegations of age discrimination brought against the business.

Every year, thousands of older adults face unfair treatment and fewer employment opportunities simply because of their age. Identifying workplace age discrimination can help workers fight it. Workers who understand that age discrimination is illegal and a violation of their rights may feel more confident about addressing the mistreatment they have faced in the workplace.