Age discrimination is one of the most prevalent issues facing older Americans today. The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit last year against the University of Wisconsin system for refusing to hire a 53-year old former employee due to her age.
Not all instances of age discrimination are readily apparent. Some employers will not outright abuse older employees, but they will perform actions that are antithetical to older employees' success. Watch out for the following signs, and take appropriate action when necessary.
Jokes about age
People around the office may make fun of someone based on his or her age. It may come across as all good and fun at first, but there may be malicious intents behind the jokes. Over time, the jokes can become more aggressive. Ultimately, employees do not have to deal with jokes they are uncomfortable with, and they can bring the joking to the attention of HR.
Left out from activities
Many older employees work with people who are much younger than them. These younger workers may plan events and parties that intentionally exclude the older individual. It is one thing to miss out on happy hour, but young employees may schedule meetings during office hours that do not involve the older worker. This employee may not be able to do his or her job as effectively without this meeting, and it is a form of discrimination.
Passed over for opportunities of growth
Employers need to invest in the success of all employees. Employers may promote younger employees over older ones, even though the older worker has better qualifications. Employers may also send younger employees to seminars and classes to help them gain new skills. Older workers deserve these same opportunities. That means employers should also give older workers challenging assignments. Talking to the boss can help, but sometimes, legal action becomes necessary.