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How to Know If Age Discrimination Exist in a Workplace

How to know if age discrimination is real in a workplace

Age, they say is just a number but in reality, it’s not just a number but a great measure of how you are likely going to be treated if there’s age discrimination in your workplace.

Sometimes the age discrimination tilts against younger employees and sometimes it tilts against older employees.

If your company doesn’t adhere to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) of 1967 or you have no idea that there’s a law like that protects you, you will always be discriminated against because of your age.

In 2018 alone, there were over 16,000 age discrimination cases filed according to Equal Employment and Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Just recently, WeWork, a coworking space giant was sued for age discrimination and gender pay inequality. They are our recent example of a company being sued for age discrimination.

In the world of work, there are a lot of qualifications and requirements for one to be able to get a job or to be able to stay in one.

Although it’s not a norm among companies to consider it, age is one of the things employers look at when hiring and when working with their employees.

This, however, must not be important at all since age isn’t everything; it doesn’t completely define a person’s ability.

When age becomes a high consideration in hiring and working, there could be an existing age discrimination in your company. This is a warning sign that age discrimination is obviously at work in that organization.

Related: 7 Ways to Protect Your Business from Getting Sued by Employees

You see this manifest when younger or older employees are favoured or tolerated more.

However, it’s worth mentioning that “Age” in age discrimination isn’t limited to a certain age range only.

Below are major signs you must look out for to know if age discrimination is present in your workplace. We went on to specify exactly how age discrimination happens to younger ones and to older ones.

4 Symptoms of Age Discrimination Exist in a Workplace

Age Discrimination 1: Underestimation

One of the most common signs of age discrimination in a workplace is underestimation of capabilities.

For a younger employee, age discrimination occurs when a certain assignment isn’t given to him/her because it is assumed that the task will be hard for him/her to accomplish as someone with lesser knowledge and experience than those older in age and in the industry.

For specific tasks, there’s in need of “expert” level, and most likely, those older will be the ones needed.

Younger employees could be new employees too or with average period of work in the industry. Based on these facts, some tasks might not be trusted to younger employees because of their age, experience and abilities.

For an older employee, it’s kind of the same with the previous one. Age discrimination occurs when a certain task isn’t given to him/her because it is assumed that it will be hard for him/her to accomplish as someone with older age than the rest of the team, with slower mental abilities and with weaker physical capacity.

A younger employee is believed (even without proofs) to be more enthusiastic and quicker than him/her. It may seem like a kind help for older employees, but it’s just a discrimination in disguise.

Age Discrimination 2: Unequal and Unjust Treatment

How to prove age discrimination in the workplace

As annoying and disagreeable as it is, it isn’t good when employers don’t treat all their employees equally, fairly and justly. There are favoritisms and “special treatments” which are so unhealthy.

This can also play out in terms of gender pay inequality like one Lisa Bridges had accused WeWork.

For a younger employee, he/she may experience this when the employer’s treatment and discipline strategy are better for those older. The discipline given to them by the employer could be stricter than those given to older employees.

For an older employee, he/she may experience this when younger employees are always given favorable attention.

Related: 5 Reasons Why Employees Decide to Resign from their Job

He/she may also be given lesser chances of getting promoted since employers are looking for the fresher and younger employees that won’t be retiring soon.

If an older employee gets turned down for a promotion because it has been given to someone who’s less obviously capable and younger, age discrimination is surely in the air.

This may also be observed when it comes to giving perks and little recognition.

Age Discrimination 3: Harassment

Harassment at work due to age may not just be physical harassment but also verbal. This could be in the form of degrading words even when it’s just a joke.

You must treat every member of your staff with respect. As long as you have up to 20 employees and above, you could as well be prosecuted if you do violence to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

There could be offensive remarks and comments that is directly or indirectly, intentionally or unintentionally hitting sensitive matters concerning age and work. Brilliant employees who understand their rights and privileges won’t take harassment from you.

If one is constantly harassed beyond the level he could handle, he may decide to sue his company for that.

Age Discrimination 4: Encouragement to Retire

When you are being encouraged to retire, it's a sign that age discrimination exist in the company

This one’s for older employees. It does not sound really well, but some employers who do not want to have old employees anymore will politely ask them to leave by “encouraging” them to retire.

This happens most times because they consider these ones too old to get ahead in the career because of the technologies needed fast-track the company’s success.

Related: Applicant Tracking Software and How Valuable It Is for Businesses

There’d be some “good remarks” to be discussed and maybe some “benefits” that the employer would use to convince an older employee to retire from work but in the real sense of it, they are simply discriminating against you because of your age.


If you are working with a company or applied to work in an organization that is hellbent in discriminating against their employees and job applicants respectively because of their age, you can file a claim of age discrimination against them within 45 days.

You can either visit the EEOC public portal to file a charge of age discrimination against the company or hire any of the age discrimination and ADEA protection attorneys near you to help you.

Before proceeding to hire an age discrimination lawyer, you must be sure you know how to prove age discrimination that age discrimination actually existed in the workplace so you don’t spend your money for nothing.

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Emenike Emmanuel is a multiple award-winning blogger, CEO of Entrepreneur Business Blog, Chief Evangelist of Ebusinessroom Ventures, and the Lead Coach of an online community of over 12,000 business owners called, The Excellent Entrepreneurs' Network. He’s here to help you start, manage and grow a profitable and sustainable business using digital marketing strategies. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn & Pinterest with this handle, @emenikeng. Telegram group - t.me/yourfirst1000 | Email: [email protected]


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