You have aged right alongside your company. You started the year it opened its doors, and you’ve been there through the last several decades. You know everything there is to know about the company, and you’ve also been on good terms with the CEO and owner for much of your time there.
Last year, he decided to sell the company on to another and retire. You’re getting older, but you’re not planning to leave any time soon. Unfortunately, there has been some talk that the new owner doesn’t like having older staff members, because he thinks of them as liabilities. He wants the company to look fresh-faced and new, in his words, which makes you nervous.
The last time that you spoke with your employer about a role you were seeking, he laughed off your request. He said that he envisioned someone younger who could grow with the company over time and be the face of the department. To you, that sounded like age discrimination, and you could be right.
Age discrimination happens when you’re treated differently because you’re over the age of 40. For example, if you apply for a promotion and are told no because of wanting to hire someone younger, then that could be problematic. Your employer should be judging you based on your time with the company, your skills and the abilities you have to help the company continue to grow, not your age.
There are very few times where age is an acceptable reason to limit a role. Usually, your employer would have to show that accepting an older individual wouldn’t be safe or that they wouldn’t be physically able to do the job. In this case, you were told you were passed up for a desk job, so you know that your age shouldn’t have played a role at all.
You are protected against age discrimination thanks to the Age Discrimination Act of 1975 and protections from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. It may be worth talking to your employer and bringing up that age discrimination is illegal. Discuss why you feel that you’re being discriminated against, and begin to collect evidence. If your employer refuses you based on age alone, or because of other discriminatory factors, then you may be able to pursue a lawsuit against him to seek compensation or to have other results that you’re interested in seeing the court’s help to achieve.