Discrimination can take many forms. For most employees, getting fired or laid off because of their age is the most harmful type of discrimination. However, any adverse or unlawful actions against an employee may be a form of discrimination.
Age discrimination is established by showing that a job applicant’s age over 40 or employee’s age over 40 was considered in the denial of an employment benefit. Denied employment benefits in examples of age discrimination include:
- Failure to promote
- Reduction in salary
- Denied a work environment free of discrimination
- Denied equal pay
- Denied a promotion
- Denied reinstatement
- Forced to quit
- Forced to transfer
- Denied medical leave
Employers may not come right out and tell an employee they are being terminated or denied a promotion because of their age. There are a number of signs that an employee is being discriminated against because of their age. This includes:
- Firing employees who have been with the company longer
- Firing higher-salary employees
- Making older workers take on certain duties
- Jokes or comments about an employee’s age
- Sudden changes in job performance reviews
- Promoting a “young” corporate culture
- Retaliating against an employee for reporting discrimination against older employees
- Forcing retirement for older employees
- Higher salaries for older employees
Older employees who have worked with a company for a long time may have a higher salary than younger employees. A company may claim the higher paid employees are being “let go” as a way for the company to save money. However, the use of salary as a basis for differentiating between employees can be age discrimination if it adversely impacts older workers as a group.
Recruiting Young Workers
Employers are generally aware that it is against the law to refuse to consider applicants because they are 40 or older. However, some employers may screen and hire applicants through recruitment programs with high schools or universities as a way to avoid ever considering older workers.
Employers can participate in established recruitment programs at schools, colleges, and universities. Employers can also be involved in temporary hiring programs aimed at young workers. However, exclusive use of such screening programs may be considered age discrimination if these programs are used to evade age discrimination laws.
Asking for Age in Job Applications
It is not illegal for an employer to ask for an applicant’s age or date of birth. However, it is unlawful to use an application or pre-employment inquiry to reject an applicant because he or she is 40-years-old or older.