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Dealing with ageism in the workplace

Given the fact that about a third of America's working force will be above the age of 50 by 2022, the state of New York included, ageism and age discrimination in the workplace are serious matters that need to be tackled head-on. To make matters worse, age discrimination is so prevalent in today's workplace that, according to some estimates, six out of every ten employees above the age of 45 have been exposed to it in some way or form, and nine out of every ten senior employees describe ageism as a common practice in today's workplace.

That being said, age discrimination can be tricky to prove. For one thing, it tends to take many forms, such as derisive comments pertaining to someone else's appearance, derogatory remarks about an individual's declining cognitive abilities, and overlooking qualified workers when it is time to promote them. Over and above, age discrimination can be even tougher to prove when a company is hiring: After all, a company may claim that it rejected an elderly candidate for a host of other 'reasons", none of which had anything to do with their age. In fact, some companies will send subtle signals that they'd prefer to hire younger candidates, including asking for a candidate's high school graduation date and asserting that their workplace is a 'fun" and 'hip" place to work.

Fortunately, the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act, otherwise known as POWADA, is a legislative proposal that might be able to better protect the rights of the more seasoned employees. The POWADA aims to counteract the 2009 Supreme Court decision which made claiming that a layoff or demotion was due to age bias much harder.

Despite ageism being rampant in the workplace, a meager three percent of older workers who have been exposed to it went on to file a formal complaint. Regardless of the reason for this, people who feel that they've been the victim of ageism might benefit from reaching out to a professional lawyer who can explain their legal options to them.

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