Thanks to the popular media, many people likely envision discriminatory actions on the part of employers as unfolding in a dramatic and otherwise outward manner. For instance, they may have mental images of a manager simply telling an employee they are too old for the position or even making age-related jokes to a co-worker prior to a termination.
While it's true that conduct like this would certainly constitute age discrimination, the reality is much less exciting and far more subtle. Indeed, experts indicate that while age discrimination is indeed rampant in the U.S. workforce, it isn't always easy to prove.
For those who might question the notion that age discrimination is commonplace, consider the following statistics:
- The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has seen the number of age discrimination complaints increase by 15 percent over the last ten years.
- A 2013 survey by the AARP determined that roughly 66 percent of surveyed workers between the ages of 45 and 74 either witnessed or experienced age discrimination.
- A 2015 survey by the AARP determined that roughly 50 percent of surveyed workers between the ages of 45 and 70 who've been unemployed over the previous five years identified age discrimination as a likely factor.
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that while 22 percent of unemployed people under age 25 had searched for work 27 weeks or longer in 2014, this number stood at 45 percent for unemployed people 55 and older.
As discouraging as these figures are, it's imperative for those people who feel as if they've been victimized by age discrimination in relation to hiring, firing, promotion, benefits, assignments, etc. to understand that they have legal protections, including:
- The Age Discrimination in Employment Act: A federal law that protects workers 40 and older from age discrimination by employers with 20 or more workers.
- The Minnesota Human Rights Act: A state law that protects workers 18 years of age and older from being victimized by any sort of employment decision motivated purely by age.
To learn more about your rights and your options if you've been victimized by what you believe to be age discrimination, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible.