More and more people are choosing to stay in the workforce longer. Americans are living longer lives, they are healthier and want to stay active, and contribute their time and experience. 

These older Americans may be working in your organization, and as a decision maker, it is important that you understand ageism and what constitutes discrimination in the workplace. Clear or subtle discriminatory behaviors by employees or management may target your company for a law suit.

The Age Discrimination Employment Act (ADEA) was passed in 1967. As a result, age became one of the “protected characteristics” in the workplace, which means employers cannot discriminate against employees based on their age. This includes hiring, firing, work assignments, and promotions. It’s important to know that this legal protection doesn’t cover employees of businesses with fewer than 20 employees who are exempt from the ADEA.

Attitudes of ageism can take on many forms such as ignoring applicants because they are close to retirement age, or assigning responsibilities to a younger worker. Ageism can occur in various ways of being excluded.

While sometimes hard to spot, ageism, like all forms of discrimination, originates from a limited point of view. It can show up in job descriptions, interviews, meetings, water cooler talk, and other areas of the workplace.

Like race, gender, religion, sexual orientation and disability, age is an important building block in creating diverse teams. Diversity boosts creativity, employee engagement, and drives other bottom-line benefits in the most positive way.

As a leader in your organization, it is critical that you create an inclusive culture for your employees by offering education and equal opportunity to all.

If you have a concern about workplace age discrimination, contact Derek at (813) 377-1197 for a consultation.

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