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Can You Spot Age Discrimination at Work?


Let’s say that you work for a company and that you have worked there for many years now. As time has gone on, you have gotten older, but you are starting to notice something odd: Despite the time that has elapsed, many of your co-workers have since moved on for one reason or another, and there you are, in your advancing age, working amongst an office full of what are now mostly younger people.

A coincidence? Or could there be something else going on?

Hard to Spot

Age discrimination is real, and it happens, and when it does, it often happens without employees even noticing. You may think that co-workers have retired or left voluntarily. Or, you may just assume that they “couldn’t keep up with the times,” and were phased out.

But what could really be happening, is classic age discrimination.

Age discrimination can be hard to spot and hard to prove, because companies will often use a pretextual reason that, on the surface, sounds valid.

For example, they will say younger people are getting promotions because they know how to use the office technology. Or, employers will say that older workers “wanted to leave.”

How to Spot Age Discrimination

There are ways to prove age discrimination in the workplace however, and there are factors that you should be looking out for, even if you are younger, because the legally protected age starts at just 40—a relatively young age when it comes to working. You don’t have to be “elderly” to be protected by the law.

Age discrimination is often hidden because the things that employers do, don’t scream discrimination at first glance.

For example, an employer may leave older employees out of job or technology training.

Older employees may be told that the company is choosing to invest time into employees who have a “longer future” with the company.

There may be what seems like a neutral event, such as a mass layoff, or a restructuring, that leads to termination of employment—except that if all the terminated employees are over the age of 40, there still may be a claim for age discrimination.

A policy may seem, on its face, neutral—for example, rewarding employees who carry more weight, or who use the restroom less frequently. But if that policy has a disparate and negative effect on older workers, it is discriminatory.

Comments and Language

Of course, discriminatory comments are a telltale sign, and you would be surprised how many people use such language. Whereas many employers know better than to make jokes about race or gender, jokes about old age seem to still be commonplace.

When those jokes or comments are coupled with firings or other negative consequences that happen mostly to people over 40, there is likely a good claim for age discrimination.

Contact the San Jose employment lawyers at the Costanzo Law Firm today if you have been discriminated against at work because of your age.


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