No matter how old you are, you are a valuable worker in your workplace. It is unfair for anyone to devalue you simply because you’ve gotten a little bit older.
In fact, it’s illegal to discriminate against you because of your age when you’re 40 or older. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act, or ADEA, forbids age from being used to discriminate against workers at any part of the employment process. This means that your age can’t be used against you when you apply for a job, seek a promotion or in other aspects of your career.
Getting to Know the Age Discrimination in Employment Act
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act, (ADEA) was passed in 1967 and protects most employees who are age 40 or older against discrimination. It is enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Keep in mind that there are some jobs in which age matters and has a direct impact on the role. For example, it’s reasonable for a movie producer to hire a younger actor for the role of a child (within a reasonable age range). This is because the appearance and age of the individual matters for the role. By law, employers may discriminate based on age when there is a bona fide reason that workers outside that range would not do the job safely.
What should you do if you face age discrimination in the workplace?
Age discrimination does rear its head in some workplaces. If it does impact you, you should speak up. The first step is to talk to your human resources department and to make sure you have copies of records of the incident(s) in question. For example, if your boss sends you an email suggesting that you’re “over the hill” and “look old” for a position you want in the company, then you should print out a copy for yourself, save it, and then go to the HR department to discuss the issue.
Not all age discrimination is blatant, but if you keep good records of your age impacting your ability to move up in the company, hurting your ability to get hired or leading to your termination, then you may have a case.