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Age-diverse workforces no place for employment discrimination

It is increasingly common for multiple generations to share the same workspace, as older Americans today are working well into their seventh decade just to be able to afford life's necessities.

Discriminating against employees on the basis of age is prohibited by both federal and Missouri state laws. But even when no discrimination occurs, challenges presented by an age-diverse workforce can crop up.

Below are some tips to help workers of all ages navigate potential problems in a professional manner.

-- Appreciate the differences that all age groups bring to their jobs. Whether it's the younger set's tech skills or the tried and true wisdom of a senior employee, all have vital skills and knowledge to share.

-- Establish some common ground. It doesn't have to be work-related, but seek out something to which the disparate age groups can relate. Shared experiences bridge gaps.

-- Accept that there is no truth. Jumping to conclusions and stereotyping all members of an age group with generalities isn't fair. Stating that all older workers all lack tech skills isn't true and is likely to cause resentment, just as remarks will that young employees are less stable or reliable. Understanding what makes individuals tick removes the need to rely on stereotypical thought patterns.

-- Don't anticipate problems. An age-diverse workforce can present employers with a very well-rounded approach to problem-solving if everyone is appreciated for their individual strengths. Encourage other workers to view the positives rather than dwell on the negatives.

In cases where actual age discrimination is taking place, workers may discover that they want to pursue a claim. Seeking advice from a legal professional might become necessary.

Source: Workplacefairness.org, "Talking About My Generation: Managing Different Ages at Work" accessed Mar. 11, 2015

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