Age Discrimination — When It Pays To Know Your Rights

By | June 20, 2011

When many of us think of discrimination, what do our thoughts turn to? We think of racial discrimination, a problem that’s had an obvious and lasting effect on our society. We might think of gender discrimination, which often translates to damaging sexual harassment lawsuits in the workplace. But how many of us think of age discrimination as being equally harmful?

As it turns out, age discrimination can be just as damaging to an individual as race or gender discrimination. A lost job because of discrimination is still a lost job – no matter if you’re being discriminated against based on your age, race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation. So if you think you’ve faced age discrimination in the past, it’s time to learn your rights and understand what makes a strong and successful age discrimination case.

To accomplish this, we’ll take a look at some common problems that can arise as a result of age discrimination – but we’ll also pay attention to your potential solutions in order to propose actionable steps to respond to these problems. Let’s take a look at these common problems and see if we can get a better handle on the issue of age discrimination.

Common Problems as a Result of Age Discrimination

It’s not difficult to understand age discrimination. Essentially, age discrimination can feel like any other type of discrimination: you’re being treated unfairly. No one wants to feel this way, and to many of us, it can come as a rather shocking surprise when someone in our lives reveals themselves to be discriminating.

For many people, the problem is that defining discrimination can feel like a major challenge. After all, how do you know if you’re simply “not taking a joke” as opposed to experiencing real discrimination? There are many social cues that are involved with age discrimination, and it can be difficult to read these. But put quite simply, you are the person who should first begin to determine whether or not you have been the victim of discrimination.

How can you accomplish this? Simply put, if you feel uncomfortable, held back, or even harassed in any way because of your age, then you are probably the victim of discrimination. In some cases, your discomfort is a result of a perception that doesn’t truly reflect the real world, sure, but that doesn’t mean you should be quick to discount your suspicions.

As a result of age discrimination, a number of problems can arise. First, people who work in an office environment – or any work setting, for that matter – might feel that they’re being held back from opportunities because of their age. For example, if two people are considered for a big project at work that requires long hours, is the person with the higher age avoided because they are seen as weaker and less able to handle that kind of stress?

There are also potential problems from age discrimination when someone is considered too young. This is less prevalent, of course, because “experience” can be cited as a factor for workplace decisions without aggravating any potential legal issues. But there are other ways that age discrimination can take place because someone is “too young.” Once again, it’s up to the person being discriminated against to weigh their feelings and truly discern whether or not they should seek further action.

And what if they decide that they should? Well, it’s important to know what constitutes real discrimination and what doesn’t. And that’s exactly what we’re going to address in the next section.

Examples of Age Discrimination

Age discrimination might not feel like discrimination because so many of us aren’t used to understanding discrimination as a result of age. We think about issues like race and gender and tend to forget that someone also can’t help how old they are. When discrimination based on age happens, we can be too quick to pass it off as something that is fleeting.

Let’s start with a simple example. If someone is performing well at work – say the person is about 65 years old and approaching retirement age – but they are fired and replaced with someone who is not qualified to hold the same position, there might be a case that age discrimination has indeed taken place.

In this instance, it might be tempting to say that the older person was replaced because of a high salary – but what if the older person was willing to take a pay cut in order to keep their job? This smacks of age discrimination and is precisely something that you’ll want to be on the lookout for if you’re not sure you’ve suffered from age discrimination.

Age discrimination can also fall under a very simple category: that of harassment. If you wouldn’t expect colleagues at work to make jokes about the fact that someone was a woman because of the discriminatory nature of those jokes, then why should it be acceptable to make fun of someone for something else that they can’t control? Of course age discrimination would fall under this umbrella of discrimination, and if you’ve been experiencing this in your life – whether the harassment is about you being too old or young – then it’s something that you’ll want to look into.


Age discrimination should essentially be thought of in the same light as other types of discrimination. It might seem odd to think that a 62-year-old white male could undergo some sort of age discrimination, but you’d be surprised at how insensitive some people can be. There is – and should be – legal recourse to ensuring that someone who is being treated this way does not have to tolerate that kind of treatment.

If you’ve been wondering whether or not you’re being discriminated upon because of your age, young or old, hopefully here at we’ve been able to shed some light on the subject for you. Remember that until you understand the full picture of discrimination, you don’t have a way of knowing if you’ve been inappropriately harassed or discriminated against.

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