Discrimination against individuals is often the result of faulty and prejudiced beliefs about a group that those individuals belong to. While some people who discriminate against others do so maliciously, others do so because of internal biases that they don’t recognize or understand.
Inaccurate beliefs can lead to discrimination in the workplace for people with many different protected characteristics, including being over the age of 40. There are at least three cultural myths that contribute to discrimination against older employees.
- People think older workers can’t learn new technology
There is a stubbornly persistent cultural belief that old workers can’t learn new skills, especially when it comes to technology and software. Even that lack of skills in older workers can be an indication of company discrimination, as proactive continuing education and training for employees could help keep them up-to-date on technology and software.
- People think that older workers focus on retirement
The trope in movies of someone dying the day before retirement is a form of dark ironic humor. However, it gives insight into a deep-seated cultural belief that most people don’t want to work. People think that older workers want to retire and won’t give the job their full effort because they’ve already checked out mentally after they reach a certain age.
- People think that older workers might affect the benefits system
Whether it’s an excessive use of paid time off that forces the company to change its policies or massive health care claims that push up everyone’s premiums, some people can think that older workers put pressure on benefits systems.
In reality, those employees have contributed to those systems for years, if not decades, and may not make any more claims than their co-workers. Older workers may not need benefits as much as younger workers just starting their families, for example.
If you believe that internal biases or a youth-focused culture has cost you a promotion or even your job itself, you could be the victim of age discrimination in the workplace.