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Facts about age discrimination you may not know

Age discrimination is becoming more of an issue in the workplace as workers are reaching the age of retirement but remaining in the workforce. While the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) made it against the law for employers to discriminate against workers that are age 40 and older, many workers are not clear on the exact rules and their rights.

As a worker, it is vital that you understand your rights if it seems like you are experiencing discrimination in the workplace. Here are some facts about age discrimination that you should know.

Illegal at all stages of employment

Age discrimination is illegal during all stages of employment. This includes the hiring process, promotions, reviews, bonuses, raises and layoffs. In addition, the law makes it illegal for coworkers, managers or clients to discriminate against you due to your age. However, in most states the ADEA only applies to employers that have a minimum of 20 workers.

Employers can ask your age

While some organizations are working to increase protections for workers in terms of certain inquiries, it is still legal for employers and potential employers to ask your age or the date you graduated from high school or college.

There is a high burden of proof

Unfortunately, the Supreme Court made a ruling in 2009 that makes it more difficult for victims of age discrimination to prevail in court against defendants. The court has laid a higher burden of proof on those filing complaints for age discrimination than those who have been victims of other types of discrimination.

You have options

If you feel like you have been a victim of discrimination, either during the hiring process or at some point in your employment, you have options. You can file a charge against your employer with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or you can work with an attorney to bring a lawsuit. However, before you do this, it is generally a good idea to first go through your employer's internal process for filing a complaint. Also, be sure to keep careful records of every instance of discrimination you experienced to help your claim.

Discrimination of any type is a serious problem within any organization and should always be addressed. If you have experienced age discrimination in your workplace, you might be able to take legal action and fight for your rights.

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