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Is it okay to be discriminated because of my age at work?

Does your age make you stand out at your place of work? Maybe you feel like the baby in the office. Maybe you feel like the grandparent in the office. It is one thing for you to personally know that you are unique because of your age in your place of work; it is another thing if you are targeted professionally because of your age.

In the news and even in work training, you probably have heard quite a lot about sexual discrimination. But how much have you heard about age discrimination? Depending on your situation, you most definitely can be the victim of age discrimination and have legal rights to defend yourself. The following are some age discrimination basics:

 

  • The Age Discrimination Act in Employment was put in place in 1967 and has been amended since. 
  • Ageism laws apply only to workers older in age, specifically 40 and over.
  • A worker's age cannot be the basis of negative professional decisions: not hiring, firing, demotion, compensation decisions, privileges, assignments, benefits, etc. 

What is and isn't age discrimination at work can be confusing. For example, teasing based on age, according to the EEOC, is not against the law. However, offensive remarks that overall create a hostile work environment can be considered discrimination. If someone teases an older worker one time, that wouldn't generally create a hostile work environment. When an older worker becomes routinely uncomfortable at work because of a consistent environment of teasing and offensive joking, that worker might have cause to work with an employment law attorney in order to protect his well-being and employee rights. 

Since the matter of age discrimination is complex, there is more to be said about the laws and its exceptions. We will continue this employment law conversation in an upcoming post. 

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