Do You Recognize These Surefire Signs of Age Discrimination?

By | June 13, 2011

For too many people, age discrimination is a mysterious thing. They may feel too old – or too young – and so they easily accept the kind of discrimination they expect from the outside world. But that’s exactly what people who suffer from age discrimination need to fight. So why does it seem so hard to do?

Well, it might have something to do with the fact that age discrimination can be so hard to pin down for so many people. Sure, they get an occasional comment here and there, but they’re not sure if their vulnerabilities are simply playing tricks on them.  And if the age discrimination is more serious and obvious, many people still find themselves asking whether or not what they’ve seen is discrimination according to the law. And if it is, how do they prove it?

Needless to say, there are a lot of questions here. So let’s focus on one of these main questions: how do you recognize the surefire signs of age discrimination – and answer it explicitly. If you were confused about age discrimination before, this article should clear things up for you. So browse through this list and tell us if any of these scenarios sound like something you’ve gone through.

1. You feel like your age is playing a role in decisions even when your age doesn’t show itself. Let’s put this more simply: if you feel like you can handle a job because you’ve got the energy and someone else puts you down because of your age, it’s clearly age discrimination. Why? Because you should able to demonstrate that you can handle a certain job beyond any doubts – and when you still find yourself fighting an uphill battle to convince others that you can do it, you realize there’s something more serious going on. It’s one thing to fight for a project or a job because you want it – it’s another to fight for it because someone is discriminating against you.

2. Age jokes border on harassment. Many people have trouble distinguishing between jokes, playful banter – and true harassment. Why? Well, we do live in sensitive times, but even in the modern workplace it can be easy to feel vulnerable. Let’s say you’re new to a company and are still unsure how the culture is and are eager to make friends. It can be much easier to leave yourself vulnerable to teasing and harassment simply because you want to be accepted.

This, of course, should not go on – so when you find yourself facing this surefire sign of harassment, talk to someone directly and tell them how you feel. You might be surprised how often someone didn’t realize how their jokes were falling flat. If they continue to harass you, then you’re talking about discrimination and should begin recording these events with an eye on a potential lawsuit.

3. When you have experience, and not age – and still find yourself struggling anyway. Many employers will tell you that they opt to go with people with experience for a number of projects, jobs, positions, promotions – anything under the corporate sun. But when you have the same amount of experience as someone older than you and you still find that you’re getting the same results, it might be time to bring that to someone’s attention. Much of the work of determining if discrimination is taking place is in finding out when decisions can cross the line. It is one thing to discriminate between two employees because of actual experience, but when decisions are being made because you’re too young and that’s all – then you’re looking at real discrimination.

4. If you find yourself the first to go simply because of age. These are times of high unemployment so issues like these are fresh on peoples’ minds. Layoffs abound, and when it comes to crunching the numbers, age should not be a factor. So if you find yourself laid off for no other reason than you have a lot of years under your belt, you might be looking at legitimate age discrimination. Sometimes you can be laid off in order to save more money on salary – but there is a point at which this becomes discrimination. Try to record anything you hear from supervisors as to why you were fired, and consult with a lawyer to find out if you have a real age discrimination case.

5. Forced retirement. A classic sign of age discrimination is forced retirement: essentially, a way of firing you because you’ve reached a certain age. There are few more blatant ways to discriminate against people than a forced retirement. If you find yourself forced into retirement against your wishes, do your best to state your position clearly to your supervisors, write down all the events that happen, as well as when they happened, and begin researching the law to see if what they’re doing is even legal. This will help you fight for your own rights when you’re at your most vulnerable.

6. Advertised preferences. If you’ve ever seen someone looking for a “20-something year old” for a new job, that’s age discrimination. Most employers are not permitted to advertise at a specific age because of the obvious age discrimination implications – so if you’re currently unemployed and have found advertisements like this, be sure to take some action in order to level the playing field.  That’s a good way to participate in a job hunt even if you’re not sure you’ll land the actual job.  Knowing your rights is a great way to ensure that you don’t get tossed around or led on.

There are, of course, many ways in which people can discriminate against others based on age. But if you stick to these surefire signs at the very least, you’ll have a good indication of what age discrimination looks like. And if you experience any of these signs yourself – be prepared to do something about it rather than simple tolerance.

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