Workers in New York benefit from two sets of laws. The federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against workers who are 40 or older. State regulations, meanwhile, protect all adults – not just older workers – from age discrimination at their place of employment.
Despite these very clear laws, workers continue to suffer from mistreatment because of their age. It happens more frequently than most people realize.
How often does age discrimination occur?
Maybe surprisingly, age discrimination is one of the most common forms of reported discrimination. It is usually, though not exclusively, directed toward older workers.
In fiscal year 2018, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) received 806 New York-based age discrimination charges, amounting to about 23.2% of all complaints from the state. That figure is about in line with national statistics, which show more than one in five discrimination charges filed to the EEOC involve age.
Research findings paint a particularly stark picture for workers over the age of 50. One analysis found that 56% of older workers had been either fired or laid off under circumstances that suggest they were pushed out due to their age – and did not leave voluntarily.
Afterwards, only 10% of those people ever earned as much as they had been prior to their ouster.
What does age discrimination look like?
Broadly speaking, an employer can not treat a worker or job applicant differently solely because of their age. Some examples of age discrimination are quite obvious – firing workers because they are nearing retirement, for example, or refusing to hire a qualified applicant after discovering they’re in their early 20s.
Age discrimination can be quieter, too, a series of small behaviors that demonstrate a clear bias against a worker or workers based on their age. This might include:
· Reassigning workers of a certain age to a lesser job
· Giving workers of a certain age poor reviews without explanation
· Allowing – or even encouraging – harassment or demeaning comments about age
· Preventing workers of a certain age from participating in new training
· Requiring job applicants to be “digital natives,” or targeting only younger workers for job postings
All workplace discrimination is serious. It can cause immense harm to a victim, not just financially but emotionally as well. Considering how prevalent this type of behavior remains, it is important to be aware of potentially problematic actions while knowing your options for pursuing justice.