In the United States, it is illegal for employers to discriminate against employees who are 40 years of age or older based on their age. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 cemented this into law by adding age to the list of protected classes under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
But just like other forms of workplace discrimination, age discrimination still occurs and in many cases, it occurs subtly. It is rare for an employer to outwardly state that older workers are not welcome in a company, but it is not uncommon for older workers to face age discrimination wrapped up in assumptions, targeting, and company policies.
Assumptions About Older Workers’ Ability and Interest in New Technologies
When a company offers training for new technologies or involvement with certain programs, it must be made available to all employees who qualify, not just specific individuals. When an employer sends only younger employees to a conference about adopting certain new technology, it could be due to the assumption that older workers cannot easily learn to use the technology or will not care to try.
Interview Questions that Indirectly Ask for the Applicant’s Age
There are certain questions interviewers cannot legally ask employees, such as “where were you born?” and “how old are you?” When an interviewer wants these answers, they sometimes ask other questions that can lead to them.
Interview questions that can be used to determine an applicant’s age include:
- When did you finish your degree? And
- When do you plan to retire?
Specifically Recruiting Workers of a Certain Age
It is not uncommon for a company to seek recruits for entry level jobs at college job fairs. This is not an illegal practice. Making a paid, non-internship position exclusively available to college students can be considered an act of age discrimination, as a recent case involving Pricewaterhouse Coopers’ alleged hiring practices illustrates. Refusing to hire or promote individuals over 40 is an act of age discrimination, as is terminating them to make room for younger workers.
Encouraging Older Workers to Retire or Even Forcing them Out of the Company
In most cases, an employer cannot require an employee to retire at a specific age. Even hinting that an employee should retire soon or enticing him or her to retire could be deemed to be an act of age discrimination. Examples of this include making age-related jokes about the employee in the workplace and offering specific compensation in exchange for retiring.
Work with an Experienced Chicago Employment Lawyer
Age discrimination in the workplace is never acceptable. If you have been treated unfairly in your workplace because of your age, you have the right to file an age discrimination claim with the EEOC. To learn more, contact The Law Office of Mitchell A. Kline today to set up your initial consultation with an experienced employment lawyer to determine the best way to proceed with your case.