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Proving age discrimination in workplace

Age discrimination can make for a hostile and frustrating work environment. As a worker, you may feel as strong and empowered in your work than ever before, but continue to face comments about being old, slow or behind the times. If this has happened to you, you are not alone. Sixty-four percent of workers have said they have seen or experienced age discrimination in the workplace and in 2017, there were 18,376 complaints to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission about age discrimination. 

Workplace discrimination due to age does not have a positive future. In the last 25 years, the percentage of workers over the age of 55 has doubled. With so many older workers, there will be increased chances of discrimination. While proving age discrimination can be difficult, if you believe you are a victim of age discrimination, here is what you should be looking for that can help prove your case.

Verbal harassment – At first, jokes about gray hair, needing a nap or having trouble hearing may seem harmless. But soon the remarks may become more pointed and can lead to adverse decisions such as being demoted or fired. If you are hearing comments about your age, you should document what was said and by whom and file a report with human resources.

Bad feedback – If you went into your last review believing you were going to hear plenty of positive feedback but ended up with negative comments, it may be due to your age. Notice if younger workers are being praised for their work or are being asked to take your place on tasks. Note every instance of negative feedback and where others younger than you are taking over for work you had previously done.

Lack of promotions and new hires – Note any promotions that you were up for that went to somebody younger and less experienced. If a new hire has taken over work that you used to do, this should also be noted.

Being excluded – Are you not involved in new training's or attending conferences that you used to go to? Is someone younger and newer to the organization taking your place by attending these functions? When your employer starts excluding the opportunity to better yourself, they may have other plans for you. On a smaller level, you may begin to be excluded from meeting new clients, new employees or attending company functions. You may even be asked to consider early retirement.

Blatant discrimination – Sometimes you do not have to document the situations you are facing at work to prove your case because a boss or superior will directly state your age is a reason for your firing. You may hear this directly, but if your age is referenced in an email or voicemail message, it will be your best evidence to prove your age discrimination case.

If you have experienced any of the above situations, you should speak with an attorney who can assist in fighting for your rights. Your career should not be disrupted because you have been the victim of age discrimination.

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