Ageism is the practice of treating someone less favorably due to their age. Ageism may affect everyone, but in Western societies where youth is highly valued, older people are particularly vulnerable when it comes to adverse consequences associated with this form of mistreatment. Workers aged 55 or older are, for example, often overlooked in favor of younger, less experienced employees, despite being the most knowledgeable and experienced workers in most work spaces.
In order to stay productive, businesses need to think from a variety of angles. Experts of varying ages and backgrounds should be considered integral to the process. Despite this reality, some businesses prefer to hire youthful, energetic candidates exclusively over seasoned workers. This approach completely overlooks the invaluable experience that comes with a long and varied career history.
Three areas where ageism often occurs
These are the three most common instances of unlawful age discrimination in the workplace:
- Hiring practices: This is when younger candidates are given preference in the hiring process solely based on their age.
- Prejudice at work: This occurs when senior employees are mistreated or receive fewer opportunities for training, recognition and promotions.
- Termination: This is a cost-cutting strategy used by companies to replace experienced personnel with new hires in order to “freshen up” their workforce.
While many agree that older workers should be respected because of their age and experience, this is not always the case. Negative interactions based on age are more prevalent these days than positive ones. According to a 2021 AARP poll, 78 percent of older workers have either witnessed or experienced age discrimination in the workplace.
Taking action when age discrimination occurs
If you are a victim of ageism in the workplace, you are likely a victim of actionable age discrimination. Should you find yourself in this position, seek legal assistance to learn more about your rights and options under the law.