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When does age discrimination begin, and what are the signs?

On Behalf of | Mar 16, 2023 | Employment Law |

Age discrimination in employment is broadly illegal per both state and federal law, provided that an affected employee is of a certain age. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) formally established protections for workers over the age of 39.

Companies should not factor an older worker’s age into any hiring, employment or termination decisions, and yet the issue persists. Any professional could experience age discrimination, but this phenomenon often hits women harder and earlier than men. Those who are worried that age discrimination at a company that values youth could hold them back will want to educate themselves about when age discrimination usually begins and how it can affect someone’s career.

Age discrimination usually doesn’t start at 40

Most workers who are 40 or a little older will experience the same treatment as younger workers at the company that employs them. However, as their age starts becoming more visibly apparent, the discrimination will start, often after 10 or even 20 years of commitment to an organization.

For many professional women, it is around age 47 or 48 when they start to notice changes in their work environment. Coworkers and supervisors may become more hostile to them in the workplace or less receptive to their ideas. They may find themselves reassigned from major clients or big projects.

Eventually, people at the company will start claiming there is a problem with their performance even though they have remained committed to the same professional excellence as always. Eventually, poor performance reviews will result in a performance improvement plan, which will often culminate in the worker losing their job 90 days later.

The company will have effectively fabricated the paper trail that excuses what is both sexism and age discrimination by making it look like a justified termination.

Victims of age discrimination can fight back

Sales numbers and timeclock records simply don’t lie. Workers who believe their performance has been as strong as or even better than when they were younger could fight back against a wrongful termination by proving their employer discriminated based on their age.

Holding a company accountable for age discrimination can benefit an individual worker who has been affected and others who work at the same company who could face similar discrimination in the future.