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Age Discrimination in the Workplace: An Epic Midlife Crisis You Don't Have to Face Alone

Law Blog

Getting older presents everyone with a unique set of challenges, from losing hair and gaining weight to new physical ailments and obstacles, but if you're facing middle age and being discriminated against for it at your place of employment, your whole world can come crashing down around you. The very job that's sustained you for perhaps many years now seems out to get rid of you, simply for getting older. This isn't acceptable conduct, and in fact, it's highly illegal. Don't let any employer treat you any differently now that you're "middle aged" or older. Know the law and how it can protect you.

Examples of Age Discrimination

There are many ways in which an employer can discriminate against employees, from refusing to hire someone based on skin color to overlooking them for promotion due to pregnancy. Fortunately, however, there are laws in place to counteract just about any workplace abuse scenario. In order to establish yourself as a victim of age discrimination, something akin to one or more of the following must be taking place or have taken place:

  • You were not hired as a direct result of how old you are.
  • You lost your job because the company wanted to replace you with a younger, lower-paid employee.
  • You didn't get a promotion you were rightfully owed, and it went to someone younger, instead.
  • You're not included in regular employee training that benefits your ability to improve your skills, position and pay, due to your age.
  • Employee reports written about you are unfavorable and biased against your age, especially if a negative outcome results from the report.
  • You were included in company lay-offs that involve all or mostly older workers.
  • Any comments are made to or about you in reference to your age in a derogatory manner.

Age discrimination takes many forms, and you might not even realize it's happening to you at the time. Since the consequences can be so devastating, it's very important that you know how to handle the situation. While standing up against this type of discrimination is heroic and just, it's not always an easy path.

What to Do About Discrimination

Once you've determined that the age discrimination laws put in place to protect you have been violated, you need to stand up for your rights. While you do have the option of taking no action, perhaps in fear of creating more problems for yourself or losing your job all together, understand that when someone is allowed to discriminate once, they're likely to make a habit of it. This means you may not be the first to have been discriminated against at your company and you probably won't be the last. Start taking the steps needed to rectify the situation:

  • Document your experiences: Detail the incident(s) as thoroughly as possible, including dates and times, potential witnesses and any other relevant information.
  • Contact a lawyer: Even if your company has a department to handle complaints of discrimination, you need your own advocate, especially considering how complicated discrimination law can be.
  • Try to remain status-quo at work: If you can, continue to work as normally as possible, most especially if you're dependent on the income.
  • Evaluate your budget and financial activity if you've lost your job: You likely face a long, uphill battle; thus, it behooves you to curb unnecessary spending and down-size where applicable.
  • If needed and possible, seek out a replacement job right away: There are many companies that place value on experience, so hit the pavement at your earliest convenience and don't be afraid to try new positions, where your age isn't relevant or may even be an asset.

How a Civil Rights Attorney Protects You

The civil rights attorney you hire is experienced with the federal and state laws that prohibit discrimination and dictate the potential consequences of any violations. This is a highly specialized field of law that focuses on individual freedoms, human rights, equality and any form of discrimination. It's very different from other areas of law, so look for someone specifically educated and trained in the law that applies to your case.

Advancing in years may mean your life changes in many ways, but your career and security shouldn't be among them. Know how to fight age discrimination in your workplace and who can help you win that battle.


6 July 2017