Today’s workforce consists of a diverse population. The goal of any company should be to provide a welcoming and inclusive work environment free of harassment and discrimination.
Still, age discrimination continues to be a critical issue that everyone needs to be aware of. Understanding and recognizing age discrimination in your workplace can help ensure a comfortable and equitable workplace.
Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)
Age discrimination is treating an employee or job applicant less favorably because of their age. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) is a federal law prohibiting employment discrimination against anyone 40 or older. It applies to employers with 20 or more employees and is enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Furthermore, the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 49.60.180 protects individuals from employment discrimination.
Even though age discrimination is illegal at state and federal levels, it still persists. However, recognizing age discrimination can be challenging as it is often subtle, but here are some red flags:
- Job advertisements that mention “perfect for recent college graduates” or “digital native.”
- Promotions going to younger, less qualified employees
- Age-related comments or jokes from co-workers or supervisors
- Exclusion from professional development opportunities
- Older workers are being laid off while the company retains younger ones
If you believe you’ve been a victim of age discrimination, document every incident, including dates, times, places, people involved, and what was said or done.
Next, report the incident to your supervisor or human resources department. If your concerns are dismissed or the issue isn’t resolved, you may have grounds for legal action. The Washington State Human Rights Commission (WSHRC) protects employees from discrimination in the workplace. Working with someone who can guide you through the complaint process can help protect your right to an inclusive workplace.