Workers get judged based on factors outside of their control all of the time. Employers discriminate based on appearance, sex and race, among other factors. Even if the company itself has a policy against discrimination, individual prejudices often rear their heads when managers or human resources professionals have unacknowledged biases.
One of the most common forms of discrimination is ageism. Under federal law, workers who are 40 years of age or older should not have to worry about their age affecting employment decisions. Unfortunately, many professionals over the age of 40 will notice that ageism affects their opportunities and success. The three examples below are among the most common forms of age discrimination.
1) Older workers can’t get a new job despite their qualifications
When you first apply for a new position with another company that offers better pay or simply more opportunities for advancement, they responded enthusiastically. You make it through the early hiring process, only to face a cold reception at your interview.
Your visible physical age might detract from your clear qualifications in the mind of your interviewer. If you don’t get jobs you were on track to receive because you are older than a company expected, that is age discrimination.
2) Older workers struggle to secure promotions
Working for the same company for years shows that you are reliable and loyal. You probably expect your employer to value those traits. Unfortunately, especially when executives, upper management or human resources team members are younger, the company might start looking to new hires and younger workers for advancement.
That leaves older, experienced workers at a disadvantage. If you consistently get passed over for promotions that go to less qualified but younger workers, that is a likely sign of age discrimination.
3) Older workers can face demotions or forced retirement
Your company shouldn’t change your job responsibilities or job title just because you get older. It’s one thing if you ask for accommodations, like restrictions on lifting.
It’s another thing entirely for them to start leaving you out of new projects or the best-paid work. Sometimes, companies will even put pressure on a worker to retire, with the implicit threat that the business will find a way to fire them if they don’t leave on their own.
When you think your age has started to negatively affect your career, understanding what age discrimination looks like and documenting the issues you experience can be important first steps toward fighting back.