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Is Ageism in the Workplace the New Sexism?

April 1st, 2013 by

Aegism in the Workplace

Is Ageism in the Workplace the New Sexism?

Ageism in the workplace is real. It can work both ways – discrimination against older employees and discrimination against younger employees (reverse discrimination). It can come from the top – executives and managers – or from co-workers. It can manifest in tangible ways, such as getting laid off, getting passed over for a promotion, not being hired for a new job, getting your responsibilities reduced, or not having training opportunities that others do. It can also appear as an attitude, such as condescension, favoritism towards others, and harassment. However subtle or blatant age discrimination may be, one thing is for sure: it is illegal.

A recent article from the UK reports that ageism in the workplace is more prevalent than sexism, particularly in the finance sector. While there are policies in place to promote gender diversity in the workplace, few exist to encourage age diversity, the article reported. In the U.S., similar discussions are taking place – especially as more and more corporations are downsizing and layoffs appear to be disproportionately affecting older workers.

Fortunately, if you or someone you know has experienced age discrimination in the workplace there are protections in place.

At the Federal level, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 made it unlawful for companies with 20 employees or more to discriminate against an employee because of age. States also have their own labor laws that protect workers from age discrimination. In California, the California Fair Employment and Housing Act prohibits an employer from discriminating against any employee because that employee is over 40.

There are also some things to protect yourself whether you’ve been terminated or you’re still employed:

    • As soon as you suspect age discrimination at work, start keeping a journal. Take note of comments about your age, your salary, your experience, your performance and anything else that could be age-related. Note the date, time and who said what.
    • Ask for a performance review if you haven’t had one recently. This can be helpful, especially if you get glowing reviews and then are let go because of “performance issues.”
    • Take advantage of any training offered. It’s important to keep your skills up-to-date.
    • Maintain professionalism at all times.
    • If you were laid off as part of a company-wide downsizing, compile statistical evidence that supports your claim.
    • Reach out to others who were laid off; there could be strength in numbers.

Although every case is different, you could be entitled to receive financial compensation and other benefits. You will need a skilled lawyer who has experience with ageism in the workplace, discrimination cases and labor law. Call 1-800-THE-LAW2 for help – we can put you in touch with a successful employment attorney right away.

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