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Workplace discrimination against the elderly on the rise

Any form of prejudice and/or harassment should be strongly condemned at jobsites in Minnesota and states around the country. That’s why state and federal legislation specifically identifies and addresses illegal forms of workplace discrimination. Even though age discrimination is recognized as being one such offense, there is growing concern that incidents are escalating everywhere.

The issue is that as the largest generation of Americans continue to age, the number of employment discrimination claims increase. In fact, complaints of age discrimination accounted for almost one quarter of claims filed with the equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2012. That percentage illustrates a notable increase from years past. And the number is especially troubling when compared to other major types of discrimination claims, which are beginning to level off and decrease. 

According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, older workers have a considerably more difficult time obtaining new employment than younger workers. And while few would dispute that age discrimination is a major issue, it may actually be harder than ever to combat. One problem is that the signs of ageism can be more subtle and difficult to point out than other forms of mistreatment. Another issue is that effectively fighting age discrimination in court involves proving that a defendant’s actions were directly in response to a plaintiff’s age. As a result, some victims may not receive the attention they deserve by the court system.

And while there is compelling evidence to suggest that the economy and government programs like Social Security could even benefit from combatting discrimination against older workers, there are also indications that it persists. A recent Princeton University study found that older people face harsher judgment than younger individuals.

Older employees can seek legal counsel in the event they suspect their rights have been violated under the law.

Source: The New York Times, “Three Men, Three Ages. Which Do You Like?” Michael Winerip, July 22, 2013

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