What Are Signs of Age Discrimination?

When a person reaches a certain age, to nearly everyone’s surprise on their birthday, nothing actually happens. Despite the common misconceptions regarding the differences between younger and older workers, a person’s abilities to perform a job are rarely, if ever, associated with their age. If you need proof, just look at TV and film where actors pushing 30 pull off roles as high school students.

Age discrimination in employment was made illegal in 1967 under federal law. The federal law protects workers over the age of 40 from both intentional and disparate impact discrimination. This means that employers can be held liable when they don’t hire an older worker because they are “over qualified” or have “too much experience,” which if you don’t know is code for “too old.” How is “too much” experience, or “over qualification” a real problem? Below you’ll find five common signs of age discrimination in the workplace.

  1. Ageist Jokes or Harassment

Jokes that target older people, name calling, or other types of age based harassment, are among the most blatant forms of age discrimination in the workplace. Particularly in workforces that are primarily made up of young workers, such as students or recent graduates, co-workers and younger bosses can create hostile work environments based on ageist comments, jokes, or harassment. This is perhaps the easiest to prove sign of age discrimination.

  1. Only Young Workers Get Hired/Promoted

Another common sign that an employer discriminates based on age is when only younger employees get promotions, or get hired in the first place. When older employees are passed over by employees with less seniority, or less experience, this may be a sign of age discrimination.

When it comes to hiring discrimination, applicants rarely will know why they were not chosen. Even if they are told that they have “too much experience,” this is often just a polite thing to say, as it provides validation to a person that they were qualified, but just weren’t selected. However, if a rejected applicant suspects age discrimination, they may contact the EEOC, which does have the authority to investigate, issue findings, and attempt to reach a resolution.

  1. Left Out of Team Building Activities

When older employees are intentionally excluded from team building activities, or other work related activities, this could also be a sign of age discrimination. If an employer assumes that older workers are not interested in certain activities because of their age, or offers activities or programs that older workers cannot participate in, these could be clear signs of age discrimination, particularly if those opportunities can help with career advancement.

  1. Work Gets Reassigned to Younger Workers

When an older worker’s actual work assignments get reassigned to younger workers, this could be a sign of age discrimination as well. As businesses evolve, older workers must often fight to not be stigmatized as unable to adapt. Younger workers are assumed to be more able to complete certain types of tasks, such as those related to new or emerging technologies.

  1. Performance Reviews Become Negative Without Cause

If performance reviews for an older worker that used to be all good start trending downward despite there being no downward trend in performance, this may be due to age discrimination. Often, employers with biases against certain types of employees will create, out of thin air, the paper trail needed to support a termination. Unjustified negative performance reviews can be proof of an underlying discriminatory intent.

Sources: 5 Signs of Age Discrimination by George Khoury; The Age Discrimination Employment Act of 1967

Interesting Lawsuit of the Month: Woman Sues Owners of Dog Killed by Her Pit Bulls

A woman whose four pit bulls attacked and killed a family’s 10-year-old beagle named Bailey, sued the deceased dog’s owner for $1 million in damages, according to court documents.

“I couldn’t believe it,” said Steve Baker, Bailey’s owner. “Everyone was telling me to sue her, but I decided not to because it won’t bring Bailey back. Now they’re suing me for $1 million — I just can’t believe it.”

According to court documents, Baker’s neighbor and the plaintiff in the case, Emerald White, claims she was “seriously injured” after she was “unexpectedly and viciously attacked” (by a 10 year old Beagle) when she entered the Baker’s backyard to retrieve her dogs, which had entered through a hole in the mutual fence separating the two properties.

Court documents also state that White said she suffered “multiple serious bite and scratch-type injuries requiring ongoing medical treatment.” She also alleges feeling “conscious pain and suffering and now suffers also from fear anxiety and trepidation” as a result of the “unprovoked attack.”

White also alleges in the lawsuit that the Bakers failed to confine and restrict Bailey in a secure enclosure. Not long before the incident, Baker had worked to replace parts of the fence to be more secure and safe for his dog and family. Baker said that before the incident, he had spoken with his neighbor about repairing his part of the fence, but never had any response.

Since the incident, White’s four dogs have been declared dangerous dogs by the city of Texas City.

We think you will agree this type of lawsuit if simply barking up the wrong tree.

Quote of the Month

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”       -Thomas A. Edison