Nine Signs of Age Discrimination

Age Discrimination In my experience as an employment lawyer representing employees, I've found that the recession was particularly hard on older employees. They seem to have been disproportionately targeted in layoffs, and they have a much harder time finding new jobs.

Employers might assume you're close to retirement and don't need a job, but that's far from true for most Americans. They might also assume that older employees will miss more work or have more medical issues. Yet statistics show that older employees tend to be the most reliable. It's not only foolish to discriminate based on age -- it's also illegal for most companies to do so.



Who's Protected From Age Discrimination?

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act says that it's illegal for an employer to discriminate against you because of your age, but that only applies if you're age 40 or older, and only if the employer has at least 20 employees (or is a government of any size). Some states, counties and cities have laws that protect employees of smaller organizations. Some states also have laws that further limit age-based discrimination. Always check with an employment lawyer in your state when in doubt.


But How Do I Prove Age Discrimination?

Here are the top signs that you might be a victim of age discrimination:


1. Biased comments

These are the most obvious signs, and thus the rarest. If your boss calls you "grandma" or "old man," asks you about your retirement plans, says that they want a younger image, or says that your best days are behind you -- document it. This could be considered direct evidence of discrimination. If there are any witnesses, write down their names. Note dates, times and places.


2. Comparisons

Look around you. Pay attention to how younger employees are treated. If they are treated differently than you under the same circumstances, that could be evidence of age discrimination. Who was laid off and who wasn't? If older people were the primary targets, start writing down their names, along with the names of younger, less-qualified employees who were kept on.


3. Disparate discipline

If you're disciplined for something that younger employees do without consequences, write it down. They might be building a case against you due to your age.


4. Promotions

If you're more qualified than a younger employee, but you're not chosen for a promotion that you applied for, it may well be due to your age.


5. Favoritism

If younger employees are given the best leads, assignments and equipment, this could be a sign of age discrimination. Additionally, if older employees are excluded from key meetings, or if the boss only socializes with younger employees, then these too may be signs of age-based discrimination.


6. Hiring younger employees

If you see a pattern of your company hiring only younger employees, or if you are turned down for a position that you apply for and see it given to a less-qualified younger employee, it may be a sign that the company is discriminating due to age.


7. Suddenly stupid

Does the attitude at work change after you hit an age milestone? Or does a new boss only like younger employees? If you turn, say, 50 or 60 and suddenly get negative performance reviews and write-ups, you might have an age-discrimination claim.


8. Harassment

If it doesn't affect you in the wallet, it's considered harassment. If you think your boss is trying to make you miserable due to your age to try to get you to quit, or if you're being called names and made fun of due to your age, start writing it down.


9. But the boss is older

Even if the boss is your age or older, if they prefer younger employees over older ones, it still might be age discrimination.


What to Do If You're Being Subjected to Age Discrimination

If the company hands you a severance agreement and you think you've been targeted for layoff due to your age, contact an employment lawyer. They might be able to negotiate a better severance package for you. Plus you might be giving up rights that you don't need to sign away. Always read and understand before you sign.

If you're being harassed (something that doesn't affect you in the wallet) because of your age, then the Supreme Court says that you have to report it, if the company has a harassment policy, and give them a chance to fix the situation. Only if they don't remedy it, or if the harassment continues, can you file a charge of discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or your state agency. If you just up and quit, or if you skip this step, you may lose your right to sue for discrimination.

If it's an adverse employment action, like denial of a promotion, a demotion, suspension without pay, or termination/layoff, you need to file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC (they're at http://www.eeoc.gov) or your state/county/city agency before you can sue.

You will have either 180 days or 300 days from the date of discrimination, depending on your state, to file with the EEOC.

Your state/county/city might have different deadlines. Don't miss your deadline! This is a requirement before you're allowed to sue.

Federal employees have a completely different set of rules for filing a discrimination claim. They have 45 days to see their designated EEOC counselor, with an entire investigative process that circumvents the EEOC. There's a morass of tangled hoops to jump through, so if you work for the federal government be particularly careful not to miss any deadlines.

Most importantly, if you think you're the victim of age discrimination, gather your notes and evidence and go see an employment lawyer in your state, so that you can find out whether you have a potential claim and what you need to do under your state's laws.


Next: Companies Hiring This Week


Stories from CNN Money

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum

221 Comments

Filter by:
steven.darling1

Thank you for this information!!!! I was not sure if I qualified for age discrimination. Until reading the nine signs did I realize i had a definate case. Of the nine 5 of the signs are very evident in my situation.

June 22 2014 at 10:53 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
grace_collins4

I have been seeking employment for over 2 years. The county I live in offers Employment First and I was told not to put the date I graduated from High School because it is a screening tool to rule you out. I have a Masters Degree and a tremendous amount of experience and interview well. I will get an interview and not get called back, if I do, I am told that they are looking for someone with MORE EXPERIENCE! In most cases, I find out that the person hired has little experience, however, is much younger. I inquired about the application process which asks for High School graduation date. It was suggested that I put in 00/00/0000, however, there are now drop down menus in which you have to choose a date. When I inquired about this, it was suggested to put the present date. I am not the only one facing this problem, I have talked with several people my age and they are saying the same thing. I am not old enough to retire. I face this frustration constantly!!!

June 06 2014 at 3:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
glindayount

I have been with this company over 10 1/2 years with no problems always great yearly reviews now all of a sudden i have written up for things I have been doing wrong and these are the same things other coworkers also have done but not written up…i am 59 years old and I feel like they are trying to get rid of me, I am the oldest in my dept the rest are in 30's to 40's and never do wrong. almost two weeks ago my daughter who worked for them as long as I have was layed off for no reason. I want to keep my job but I do feel it is due to my age

March 18 2014 at 10:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Debbie

maybe someone can help me out im 40 years old i have had severe seizures for 20 years so i am disabled mentally but i have a job i love and i think i do good at it and work hard well 7 months ago a new store manger came in and doesnt like me he has cut my hours i'v been begging for 7 months for hours 3 weeks i get a little more has told me that these are my regual days . well im 40 years old missing a front tooth but im great at what i di and my hour get cut again and was given to a 16 year old cheerleader with a full set of teeth who has never done this kind of work doesnt do the side workor anything and the bad thing about it is she is a minor and cant close so he has her working 3 hours and then grabs someone from the back to clean up her mess..and when i asked him why he told me that he doent know how im gonna work he sad you have good days and bad day.. well i understand that but i am disabled how was that no an insult plz help me i love my job and dont want to lose it

June 08 2013 at 6:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
E

Age discrimination hit me twice in one day. At one place, I asked if they were hiring. I was told no. Then I mentioned that I wanted to get an application for my son. All of sudden there was an opening for a cashier. Later that day, I was told at another place that the job may not be suitable for a person of my age. I have been unemployed for two years and until recently, I thought it as for other reasons. Now I see, it is just plain age discrimination. I wish it was racial discrimination, then I would be able to fight back.

March 02 2013 at 4:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
M

My young Florida "Gator" (make me puke) boss was intimidated by me. I made him uncomfortable so he made my life very stressful. Now, I collect my pay by other means. Keep working hard you young bucks I need the tax money. One day too and it'll be here before you know it the next generation will find you useless and disposable. Work hard, be diligent and get the boot, it's coming to a factory near you.

February 19 2013 at 10:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
M

As long a s your a minority this won't affect you. Big business is scared to death of racial discrimination but being a white man 57 years old with 33 years of excellent service couldn't save me. The young "diverse" work force that receives every thing they ask for is the new workforce. God help industry in the USA.

February 19 2013 at 10:32 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
MsSweetSilver

When I go before a promotion board, you sit out in the lobby and answer certain questions that is given to you before you face the panel. One of the question on the questionaire is "what is your birth day?" I always skip this question because my years of experience IS my birthday. Facing the promotion board is a piece of cake. Looking at the other inexperienced candidates is not. These inexperience candidates use to work under your supervision and not they want your job, a job that you put so much of personal time as well as work time into, because you are just damn good at it. My experience has been that if the young one can not match my wits about the job, we rather promote someone who's just a couple of years younger, who could care less about being promoted and because we can better control that one instead of an old veteran of the job such as you. Keep that person in a supervisory job long enough and just kill two old birds with one stone. If this (ain't)( some sh##)

July 24 2012 at 4:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Harry

The reason age Discrimination is hard to prove is that the eeoc is more on the employer's side than the employee's. Here's the thing with the eeoc: in God we trust, all others must show evihence. A country club chef had asked me to retire.Two other supervisors were were with him in the his office.

Harry

July 18 2011 at 4:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
kayvdyvr

There were four "post-menopausal" women in the office where I worked. We had all been there since we were young and attractive, but as soon at our skin started to sag our efficient and loyal service suddenly became not good enough. We were treated like we were inferior to a young woman who came to work there. She was okay, but was always making mistakes and doing personal things at work. Anything she did was okay, but any error we made was treated like incompetence. One girl is still there, but there rest of us had enough. It's painful, but there isn't alot you can do about it.

May 18 2011 at 5:03 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Search Articles

Top Companies Hiring

Week of July 27 - Aug 3
View All

Picks From the Web