Baby boomers, the oldest of whom will turn 68 sometime next year, are increasingly becoming targets of job discrimination. Many boomers remain on the job due to financial hardships but some are staying by choice and sweating out the consequences of their actions. While many older workers are reporting adverse job behaviors previously reserved for minorities, they continue to delay retirement age until as far as their early seventies, a huge shift from just five short years ago, when the average baby boomer retired in his or her mid-sixties.
According to a recent report by MetLife, about half of all boomers are no longer in the active job market, but almost one-quarter of them are still working full-time, with just over ten percent working part-time. Some of the unsavory behaviors they can experience on the job are full-blown derogatory remarks as well as other more subtle examples. All of them weigh heavily on an aging workforce. While older workers may be pioneering an extended working life, about twenty-five percent have reported demotions, lay-offs, or denied career advancement due to age.
In studies done by the Sloan Center on Aging, dismissive actions may be initiated by younger workers who may not even be aware of the depth of their offensive demeanor. The center further reports that derogatory terms used at the workplace affect older workers in negative ways and damage their sense of self-esteem. Results also indicate such negative attitudes not only affect older workers job performance, they may also have an adverse effect on their mental health.
Studies indicate that the workplace can be redesigned to revisit the job responsibilities of older employees in ways that focus on their experience and background. Other suggestions include encouraging older workers to flex their professional muscle and direct energy towards demanding more job autonomy and flexibility.
If you or someone you know is in a workplace situation that undermines the value of your expertise and presents age discrimination, you have legal rights. There are options you can exercise that address overt employment discrimination, as well as steps you can take to protect your job security in your twilight years. It is recommended that you seek legal advice to inform you of your rights as well as preserve your dignity in the workplace.
Business.times.com, “Oldest Boomers Are Increasingly Facing Discrimination in the Workplace” Dan Kadlec, Jul. 30, 2013