Age discrimination is illegal, but difficult to prove

For any worker, being patronized, stereotyped, maligned and mistreated can be crushing, demeaning and hurtful. Such feelings are compounded when you are an older worker. Age discrimination is alive and well in the American workplace, but not enough has been done to combat something so destructive to a person’s soul or his or her livelihood.

Age discrimination is illegal and can surface in a number of ways. You’ve been asked to vacate your office to work in an open space or cube. You now must share a computer with others, or you’ve been demoted to a position with no sick pay or benefits. Or you’re called age-related epithets.

This type of discrimination -- essentially a retaliation -- affects your job duties, pay, working conditions, promotions, training and, eventually retirement benefits. In a 2013 survey that questioned 1,500 older workers, the AARP disclosed that 92 percent stated that discrimination against older workers was “very” or “somewhat” common.

Complaints reached nearly 21,000

Age discrimination complaints filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reached 20,857 in 2016, the most recent year such numbers were available. It marked the ninth straight year that such claims topped 20,000.

While the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 was designed to curb such discrimination, it has proven to be limiting due to a number of loopholes and the fact that it’s been undercut by some U.S. Supreme Court rulings.

If that’s not discouraging to learn, there’s even more if you choose to pursue legal action.

Difficult to prove

Age discrimination cases are difficult to prove because rarely does a definitive moment surface showing that a company has made a hostile move to get rid of or demote an older worker. Instead, employers will cite other reasons such as cost-cutting or reorganization. These longtime workers some of whom are age 50 or older, are the ones who have higher salaries and better benefit plans.

More Americans are staying in the workplace longer. But along the way, we are finding out that some companies just aren’t that welcoming to an experienced staff. Many older workers are being mistreated.

Don’t be disheartened. Stand up for yourself. If you feel that you’re being discriminated against because of your age, document each incident. Also, find out if there are others in your workplace facing similar situations. You also may consider taking legal action.

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