Older male employee looking defeated

What is Age Discrimination and How Can it Be Prevented?

Age discrimination in employment involves treating an applicant or employee less favorably because of their age. In the workplace, age discrimination can manifest in various forms, such as biased hiring practices, lack of promotions, and unfavorable policies targeting or excluding older workers.

Our Minnesota employment attorneys at Nichols Kaster PLLP discuss the different types of age discrimination, existing laws that protect against it, and steps that employers can take to ensure a fair and inclusive work environment for all.

Types of Age Discrimination

Age discrimination can transpire during any phase of employment, from the recruitment process to termination. Some common forms of age discrimination include:

  • Hiring Practices: Employers may engage in age discrimination by preferring younger candidates over older ones, even when qualifications and experience are equal. This could involve advertising job opportunities with specified age limits or using age-related language, such as "recent graduates" or "digital natives."
  • Promotions and Advancements: Older employees might be overlooked for promotions or career advancements due to stereotypes about their abilities or willingness to adapt to new technologies and processes or perceptions about their retirement plans and length of time left in the workforce.
  • Training and Development: Employers may discriminate by not providing older employees the same training and development opportunities as their younger peers, limiting their career advancement potential.
  • Compensation and Benefits: Age discrimination regarding salary, bonuses, and benefits can also occur. Older employees may receive lower compensation packages or be denied certain benefits based on age.
  • Termination and Retirement: Older workers might be targeted for layoffs or forced into early retirement, even if their performance is on par with younger colleagues.

Existing Laws Against Age Discrimination

Several laws have been enacted to protect older workers' rights in response to concerns about age discrimination. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) forbids employers with 20 or more employees from engaging in discriminatory practices against individuals aged 40 and above in all aspects of employment, including hiring, promotions, compensation, and termination. The ADEA also protects older workers from retaliation for opposing discriminatory practices or participating in age discrimination investigations.

Preventing Age Discrimination in the Workplace

Employers should create a fair and inclusive work environment that values the contributions of all employees, regardless of their age. Here are some steps that can help prevent age discrimination:

  • Review Policies and Practices: Regularly assess your company's policies, procedures, and practices to identify potential age biases. This includes reviewing job descriptions, recruitment strategies, promotion criteria, and compensation structures.
  • Provide Training: Educate employees, managers, and HR personnel about age discrimination and its consequences. This training should cover the legal requirements and the value of diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
  • Promote Age Diversity: Encourage age diversity at all levels of the organization by implementing mentorship programs, intergenerational teams, and inclusive hiring practices.
  • Address Stereotypes and Biases: Challenge age-related stereotypes and biases by promoting positive images of older workers and dispelling myths about their capabilities or motivation.
  • Establish a Reporting System: Create a safe and accessible channel for employees to report discrimination incidents without fear of retaliation. Ensure that all complaints are taken seriously and addressed promptly.

A Voice for Employees and Consumers When They Need it Most

Age discrimination is a prevalent issue that affects not only the targeted individuals but also the overall productivity and morale of the workplace. By understanding the different forms of age discrimination and taking proactive measures to prevent it, employers can cultivate a more inclusive and fair workplace atmosphere that values all employees' unique experiences and perspectives.

If you suspect you have experienced age discrimination, seeking legal assistance from an experienced employment law firm is crucial. The employment litigation professionals at Nichols Kaster PLLP can help you understand your rights, navigate the complex legal landscape, and advocate for justice and fairness in the workplace. Don't hesitate to reach out and take action against age discrimination today.

Schedule your consultation online or by phone. (877) 344-4628