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Photo of Michelle Cohen Levy

Is workplace ageism on the rise?

On Behalf of | Jul 16, 2023 | Workplace Discrimination |

Age discrimination remains a problem in workplaces nationwide. Yet, it remains difficult to detect, let alone prove. Older workers who should be valued for years of experience find themselves pushed aside for younger employees.

Ageism is a reality in the workplace that sees younger workers getting much-needed training, lucrative promotions, and high-profile projects. Meanwhile, older workers are passed over or offered buyouts to leave their employers.

A growing and startling trend

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) sounded the alarm, warning employers that the use of certain terms could put employers at risk of committing systemic age discrimination that includes:

  • Energetic
  • Young
  • Recent graduate
  • Fresh face
  • New blood

From harsh wording that is anything but subtle to assumptions about older people, the struggle for longtime workers is real. Stereotypes plague them with beliefs that older workers need to be updated on the latest technology and social media. Supervisors might also presume that age equals challenges in working long hours.

Assumptions about age can also play a role away from the workplace. Post-work gatherings scheduled by employees that include happy hours and fantasy football often overlook older workers. That type of social segregation can affect morale and could serve as a subtle sign that a more senior staff member is not wanted or valued.

The worst type of ageism is when layoffs occur that favor younger employees over older workers. Jobs that happen to involve those who have been around longer result in layoffs. The unfortunate outcome is the difficulty in proving that age bias played a role in trimming down staff levels.

Regardless of their age, employees who are loyal and hard-working should not be looking over their shoulders, worried about younger workers taking over their responsibilities. Evening the odds against employers looking to push them out may require the help of an attorney.