Older workers can bring many benefits to a workplace, including a wealth of experience, but employers may not always see it that way. Sometimes, they may assume that older workers are only marking the days until they can retire or are out of touch with technology.
These assumptions are not only usually wrong, they can cause employers to miss out on older workers' talent. Workers may find themselves missing opportunities or unfairly losing their jobs or responsibilities, which is illegal if it’s being done on the basis of age.
The following are five signs of age discrimination in the workplace, as well as what you do if you believe you’ve been discriminated against:
Making coded comments
A company may be tipping off a discriminatory mindset if its leaders refer to younger workers as “energetic” or “new blood,” according to aarp.org. Meanwhile, the same leaders may say older workers are “set in their ways.”
Eliminating a position only to retitle it
Companies may eliminate a position filled by an older worker, claiming a need to cut back, hg.org says, when the motivation may be getting rid of the worker because of their age. If the job is then retitled and then filled by a younger worker, this might be a case of age discrimination.
Making disparaging remarks
Managers may make remarks about older workers' age or performance, and these comments can range from outright hostile to those that are disguised as a playful comment, topresume.com says. They may ask when an older worker is planning to retire, make jokes about their age or comment if they’re huffing and puffing when they come up the stairs.
Changing an older worker’s job duties
This form of age discrimination can work both ways, with employers either adding duties or taking them away from older workers without justification. They may remove challenging work and projects from older workers, which can be frustrating and help push the idea that these employees aren’t as capable, according to hg.org. On the other hand, aarp.org says, an employer may try to get an older worker to quit by reassigning them to unpleasant duties.
Promoting or demoting based on false pretexts
Companies may turn down older workers for promotions but grant those same promotions to younger workers whose performance doesn’t match up. The same can apply to demotions. For example, an older worker may be denied a promotion because they made only seven instead of the required eight sales, but it may be given to a younger worker who has just two or three sales, according to aarp.org.
What to do if you’ve been discriminated against because of your age
Georgia workers age 40-70 are protected by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which prohibits discrimination in hiring and employment based on age.
If you believe you’ve been discriminated against in the workplace because of your age, you can file a complaint with the Georgia Commission on Equal Opportunity. Don’t wait too long, however, because your complaint must be filed within 180 days of when the discrimination occurred.
Fill out a form online that includes information about you, the respondent, the issue and any verification you have. You can also call the agency at 404-656-5392 or 404-656-1736.