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What to Do if You Face Age Discrimination in the Workplace

Age discrimination in the workplace can affect many individuals as they progress in their careers. It can manifest in various forms, from biased hiring practices and unfair promotions to unwarranted dismissals.

Understanding how to recognize and respond to age discrimination is essential to protect your rights and maintain a respectful workplace. 

Recognize the Signs of Age Discrimination

Age discrimination may not always be overt, making recognizing its more subtle signs essential. The following are examples of age-based discrimination that older workers commonly encounter in the workplace:

  • age-related comments
  • younger employees receive preferential treatment
  • your supervisor assumes you aren’t tech-savvy or that you are incapable of meeting the physical demands of the job
  • you are overlooked for promotions
  • unjustified poor performance reviews after years of strong reviews

Identifying these signs is a crucial first step in addressing and combating age discrimination in the workplace.

Documentation is Important

If you suspect that you are a victim of age discrimination, start by documenting every related incident. This includes writing down remarks about age, noting any unjustified changes in your work responsibilities, and keeping track of denied opportunities.

Documentation should be factual and detailed, with dates, times, and the names of those involved.

Know Your Legal Rights

In the United States, the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) protects individuals 40 years of age and older from discrimination based on age in hiring, promotions, layoffs, compensation, terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. Most states similarly prohibit age discrimination, including Minnesota with the Minnesota Human Rights Act. 

Address the Issue Internally

Before taking legal action, you can try to address the issue through your company’s internal channels. This could mean discussing your concerns with a supervisor or human resources representative. When raising your concerns, be clear, professional, and factual.

Seek Advice

Consulting with an employment lawyer specializing in discrimination cases can provide insights into your case's strengths and weaknesses and help you understand the best course of action. 

Consider Legal Action

If internal resolution attempts fail, you can consider filing a charge of discrimination with a government anti-discrimination agency. To pursue claims under Title VII, federal anti-discrimination law, an employee must timely file a charge of discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) before filing a lawsuit. The EEOC will investigate your charge and can provide a "right to sue" letter to pursue claims in court. Many states have similar anti-discrimination agencies that process complaints of employment discrimination, including, for example, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights.

Build Your Support Network

Facing discrimination can be emotionally and professionally challenging. Build a support network of trusted colleagues, family, and friends who can provide emotional support and possibly corroborate your claims if they have witnessed discriminatory behavior.

Maintain Your Professionalism

Throughout the process, maintain your professionalism at work. Continue to perform your job duties to the best of your ability. This helps ensure that any potential claim of poor performance cannot be legitimately used against you.


Age discrimination is illegal. Taking action against it not only stands up for your rights but also creates a more equitable work environment for everyone. Every situation is unique, so consider your specific circumstances carefully and seek professional advice when needed.

Reach out to Nichols Kaster PLLP today at (877) 344-4628 to learn more.