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Age Discrimination and Age Bias

Age discrimination is the act of discriminating against an individual based on their chronological age. The term, colloquially  associated with older individuals in a workplace, also can be used to describe discrimination towards any individual based on their age, including young workers. Legally speaking, workers over 40 are protected by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), although some employers may choose to also investigate claims by younger workers to protect the culture of non-harassment in their workplace. Commonly, age discrimination lawsuits are brought about by older workers who feel they have been unfairly stigmatized in the workplace.

According to a recent study by the AARP, nearly 60% of older workers have seen or experienced age discrimination in the workplace. In some cases, this includes employers who are simply more willing to interview and hire young applicants, while in other cases it may include individuals being turned down for promotions and raises due to concerns about their age and how long they will remain in the work force.

Much of the age discrimination that takes place, is based on stereotypes regarding the middle-aged and elderly community. In recent years people are staying longer and longer in the workplace, as the overall health and wellness of the aging population have increased, yet the stereotypes associated with the aging process remain ingrained. According to a recent report, job search websites have made it difficult for older workers to apply for jobs, as application drop down menus does not reach back far enough for the older employee to offer accurate information.

It is a necessity for employers to consider the stigmas that surround older workers, and actively aim to ensure each worker is being looked at without their age factoring into the equation; this includes during the hiring process and while the worker is employed with the company. As with all protected areas, it is important to have a proactive plan for preventing age discrimination.  Additionally, it continues to be a legal requirement to react "promptly" in investigating claims of discrimination based on age in the workplace.

Cite this article: Lynch, N. (2017). Age Discrimination and Age Bias. Available: