After establishing their skills, experience and potential, most workers naturally think their age is the least of their concerns in the workplace. Unfortunately, age discrimination is still rampant in the workforce today.
Age discrimination can swing both ways. Senior employees can be the targets of these kinds of behavior when the goal is to remove them from the workplace. Younger individuals may also experience age-based discrimination for being too young, especially during the hiring process.
Thankfully, protection against this form of discrimination is available.
Signs of age discrimination in the workplace
The signs of discrimination might not be obvious and can come across subtly. These signs may manifest through the following:
- Hiring based on age
- Reduction in pay or hours, denial of benefits, forced leave
- Hostile and stressful work environment (e.g., ageist remarks and insults, isolation)
- Denial of promotions or training opportunities
- Baseless discipline and negative performance reviews
- Reassignment or change of duties, demotion, forced resignation or termination
Keep in mind that the harasser could be any individual, including a supervisor, a co-worker or a client.
How am I protected?
Fortunately, federal and state laws protect employees in Minnesota against age discrimination in the workplace. These laws include:
- The Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA) prohibits age discrimination in the workplace for those 18 and older. This means your employer cannot use age as a basis for hiring or firing you or discriminating against you in the workplace.
- The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) specifically protects applicants and employees 40 years of age or older from discrimination. It is important to remember that the ADEA covers private businesses with at least 20 employees, federal, state, and local governments, employment agencies and labor unions.
You may feel unsure whether your employer discriminates against you because of your age. Knowing the signs of age discrimination can help you assess your situation and decide your course of action.