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Age discrimination in the workplace

It is illegal for employers to discriminate against employees due to age, yet it seems to happen every day.

You may think age discrimination means firing older employees. While firing someone due to their age is definitely discrimination, it is not the only form. There are multitudes of ways older employees can be discriminated against at work.

What is age discrimination?

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines age discrimination as the treatment of an employee - or potential employee - less fairly because of their age. Under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), it is illegal for an employer to engage in age discrimination against a person who is 40 or more years of age. Michigan law protects employees even further-discrimination based on age is illegal regardless of actual age.

How to recognize age discrimination in the workplace

The most obvious example of age discrimination is termination. However, other, more subtle forms of discrimination may be harder to detect. For example, age discrimination may come in the form of being passed over for promotions, removed from important and/or high-visibility projects, transferred to less lucrative accounts or territories while more favorable accounts or territories go to younger employees. Even certain comments about being "set out to pasture" or "gray hairs" or close to retirement can be evidence of age discrimination.

What to do if you believe you were discriminated against

If you have been the victim of inappropriate remarks about your age, are being left out of meetings or social functions meant to encourage teamwork, find your responsibilities diminishing or your expected promotion granted to a younger employee, you may be a victim of age discrimination. The defined rules regarding age discrimination in the workplace include sometimes vague exceptions and may be difficult to ascertain. If you are questioning whether you may be experiencing age discrimination, consult an experienced employment law attorney. He or she can help you find the answer.

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