Age Discrimination Within The Work Place




Age Discrimination:
Age Discrimination Within The Work Place
Introduction
Age discrimination in employment is a complex issue which impacts on many areas of Government policy and can have many implications for individuals themselves. Age discrimination can occur across the whole spectrum of employment and can affect both young and older people. It can affect a person’s chances of getting a job, as well as their chances of promotion or development when in work. Age can also be a factor in employers deciding who should be selected for redundancy.
Ageism seems to be more common in the workplace than racism or sexism. Although only about 20% Of all complaints filed with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) are for age discrimination, settlements and jury awards are substantially higher in such cases than in those for race, sex or disability discrimination (Age Discrimination, 1999). Older people are accused of lacking energy and flexibility, while young people lack experience. Many people are refused the opportunity to show whether or not they have what it takes because of their age. These people are being robbed of their employment opportunities.
Definition of Age Discrimination
There can be both direct and indirect forms of age discrimination in employment. The most obvious forms are where people hold strong, stereotypical views about a person’s capabilities to do a job or to be developed because of their age. For instance, an employer could regard all 18 year olds as immature and incapable of managing older staff, even if they have the right qualifications and experience for the job. On the other hand, an employer could consider all those over 50 to be incapable of learning about new technology, because “that’s something that youngsters pick up better –isn’t it?” (Age Discrimination, 1993).
Age discrimination affects the younger worker of youth wages irrespective of ability. It can affect workers in their twenties through the tendency to set arbitrary age limits in job advertisements as a substitute for a decision based on the merits of the applicants. It affects women over 35 and men over 40 who are trying to find new employment or change direction mid-career. Older unemployed workers experience greater difficulty finding work and suffer longer periods of unemployment than other age groups. The proposed legislation will oblige employers to abandon age stereotypes and assess individuals on their merits (Age Discrimination, 1993).
There are also more subtle forms of age discrimination, where a person may not actually realize that they are discriminating on the grounds of age. This can take the form of assuming that an older person is less likely than a younger colleague to want to be considered for promotion or to go on a development course. In addition, some older workers themselves can doubt their own ability to learn new skills and may rule themselves out for opportunities. For instance, some older workers may feel they would not be able to learn about information technology when they have in fact been learning about developments in technology all their working lives.
Elders vs. Youth
There is a thin line between trying to help people who are most likely to experience age discrimination in employment so that they have the same opportunities as others, and positively discriminating in their favor at the expense of others. Having identified unacceptable stereotypical behavior, there is a danger of adopting stereotypical attitudes such as “all older people are more reliable than younger ones” to try and bridge the gap. This approach might help to tackle some stereotypes but it does not help to promote the vision of an economy making the most of the diverse skills, potential and experience available to it (personal communication, April 1, 2000).
Discrimination Against Older Persons
Older workers often face discrimination. Employers may not want to hire older workers because of the following reasons: the employer thinks that they are less productive, they may demand higher salaries, they are more costly to insure, or they may not work long enough for the employer to recover any training costs which it has incurred. The same login applies to promotions and transfers. An employer may want to shed itself of its older workers to cut costs (Age discrimination in the workplace, 1999). The Civil Rights Act does not make age discrimination illegal, but Congress has since enacted