Discriminating against an employee who is over 40 years old is known as age discrimination. This is illegal in the United States, along with discrimination based on gender, ethnicity, religion and much more. All workers are supposed to have a fair opportunity in the workplace, which should not be impacted by factors that are out of their control – such as their age.
But this doesn’t mean that age discrimination has stopped. In fact, one woman who worked as a team manager wrote in the Harvard Business Review that she thinks it still happens quite often. In her experience, older and younger workers within the same organization sat on opposite sides of the room and often refused to work with each other. She saw this happen and realized that there was no cultural fit between the two groups, which she then worked to rectify.
Ageism in recruiting
As she began to dig into this issue, she interviewed a professor from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He noted that age discrimination often showed up in recruiting when employers would not fairly treat those who were applying for jobs.
What he pointed out was that employers would often use certain keywords to indicate that they wanted to hire younger workers. For instance, they may say they are looking to hire someone who has a “fresh perspective” or someone who is going to bring “new ideas” to the workplace. Someone who is in their 50s may feel that they shouldn’t apply if it’s clear that the company is looking to hire someone who is in their 20s.
What options do you have?
If you are reading this and feeling like you have experienced age discrimination, it can be very frustrating and hold your career back. But the law is on your side, so be sure you know what steps you can take.