People discriminate against one another for all kinds of reasons. Racial discrimination and discrimination based on sex are among the most common forms of workplace discrimination. However, there are certainly other protected characteristics that can make a worker vulnerable to discrimination.
Being over the age of 40 is among the protected characteristics that employers should not consider for employment decisions. Sadly, despite federal law banning age discrimination against those over the age of 40, older workers still experience discrimination on the job.
What are some of the ways that age discrimination could negatively affect your career?
You might struggle to find a better job
You have reached a good point in your career where you command a competitive wage and have the experience necessary to fill even managerial roles. Your resume now ticks all the major requirements for positions in your industry.
Unfortunately, when you send out your resume to companies, you may not hear back if they can guess your age based on your resume. Even if you exclude things, like the year you graduated, that would mark you as an older worker, you may notice that companies become less enthusiastic about you after an in-person interview reveals your age.
You find yourself denied new opportunities at your current job
Even a company where you have worked for years and demonstrated skill and loyalty could mistreat you because of your age. You may notice declining performance reviews even though how you do your job hasn’t changed. You could also have fewer advancement opportunities.
The pervasive cultural myth that younger workers are more innovative and motivated could lead to companies overlooking perfectly qualified older candidates for promotions or projects that eventually go to younger, less-skilled employees. Promotion discrimination at a current company is a common form of age discrimination.
You are the first one on the chopping block during downsizing or layoffs
More experienced workers often command higher wages. However, that does not excuse employers targeting those older workers disproportionately for termination or layoff when the company restructures or downsizes.
Unfortunately, when businesses do make mass decisions about employment, they can often push out workers over the age of 40 or try to force some of their older workers into early retirement. Recognizing how age discrimination could hurt your career might motivate you to fight back against it.