Subtle Age Discrimination: Is Your Company Engaging in It?

By Aditi Mukherji, JD on December 10, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

With aging baby boomers getting pushed out of their jobs early, age discrimination claims with the EEOC are up a staggering 38%, according to new statistical data compiled by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Last year, 22,857 people filed age-related complaints with the EEOC, compared with 16,548 in 2006.

For in-house counsel, the data begs the question: Is your company engaging in subtle age discrimination without even realizing it?

10 Subtle Forms of Age Discrimination

Here are ten situations that could potentially land your company in legal hot water for age discrimination:

  1. The employer repeatedly compensates or promotes younger employees with less skill and experience at a higher level than the older employees with more skill and experience.
  2. When the going gets tough, the company lets go of the oldest workers first, because the oldest workers are making the highest salaries after having been with the company the longest. Alternatively, the company lets go of older workers, but retains younger workers, or allows them to transfer.
  3. The company assumes older workers aren't tech savvy, can't keep up with their younger counterparts, or are too set in their ways to be "taught new tricks."
  4. A boss encourages, discusses, or makes comments about an older employee's retirement plans.
  5. An employer no longer sends an older worker on business trips, provides membership in professional associations, encourages job-related courses, or otherwise invests in the worker's further professional growth.
  6. A company -- expressing a desire for "new energy," "new blood" or "fresh faces" -- shies away from hiring anyone who looks older than a certain age in order to maintain a youthful company image.
  7. Older workers are given menial, less demanding tasks while younger employees are given the more desirable assignments, projects or leads.
  8. Management only socializes with younger workers and excludes older employees from key meetings.
  9. Younger workers receive more lenient disciplinary treatment than older employees.
  10. The supervisor who is engaging in the wrongful conduct think it's OK because he is older and/or the worker is a "younger old worker" over 40.

Remember, under federal law, an employee over the age of 40 is eligible file a lawsuit for age discrimination against a company with 20 or more employees.

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