With age should come wisdom, and many people are taught from a young age to respect their elders. Despite that, many older workers face age discrimination on the job. Ageism is a problem, because it threatens the ability of older people to earn a living. Workers may have trouble getting or retaining a job as they age.

Age discrimination is illegal. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act, also known as ADEA, makes it illegal to discriminate against people who are 40 years of age or older.

When is an employee or individual protected against age discrimination?

People are protected against age discrimination when:

  • Receiving job assignments
  • Going through an interview
  • Getting further training
  • Assigning benefits
  • Facing hiring or firing
  • Being considered for promotions
  • Layoffs are being considered

Essentially, any term or condition of employment may not discriminate against someone who is 40 or older.

Did you know that a company-wide policy can still be age discriminatory and illegal?

Even practices or policies that are followed by everyone on the job can be considered illegal if they have a negative impact on those who are 40 or older and are not based on reasonable factors other than age.

Why do people sometimes discriminate against older workers?

Discrimination sometimes occurs because older workers are likely to be paid more. Other times, a company’s CEO might encourage hiring younger people for a better “look.” Similarly, there is the idea that older workers aren’t as capable as younger workers, even if they are as well-trained or have more years of experience.

In any event, age cannot be a reason for an employer to choose to hire or fire you, to deny you a promotion or to lay you off. If they make any decision that affects your employment based on age alone, then you can pursue a claim and work to get your job back or be compensated accordingly.

Your age should not be a concern when you’re looking for a job or want to continue in your current employment. As long as you can complete the job as well as others, then age simply does not play a role in whether or not you should be hired, fired, promoted or treated in any particular way. Like everyone else, those who are 40 and older deserve to be treated with respect and to have their employment based on facts, not an arbitrary number or alleged “old age.”