Signs of Ageism in the Workplace

2 min read
Aug 20, 2022 10:40:36 AM

Many people mistakenly assume that the modern workplace is free of discrimination. Contrary to this belief, many other types of discrimination are sneaking into the workplace. This includes ageism.

Unlike other forms of discrimination, ageism is not often as obvious. It can be defined as discrimination against an employee based on their age. In many instances, this form of discrimination affects older employees. Below, we share some signs to look out for to identify cases of ageism in the workplace.

Only younger candidates are employed

Many employees are hired young. Many companies are also willing to give opportunities to more experienced employees. However, some companies may not want to hire older workers as they hold misconceptions about their abilities, pace, knowledge, and ability to adapt to the workplace. Employers may use terms such as overqualified to avoid hiring an older employee. If the company has a pattern of only hiring younger employees, this could be a sign of ageism.

Reserving challenging work assignments for younger employees

Employers may make attempts to force older employees out by overlooking them when giving challenging work assignments. The employer may use the excuse of wanting to ‘lighten your workload’. The truth is that they are trying to frustrate and demoralize the worker. This will make the older worker seem useless and less valuable to the company and force them to leave.

Forcing or encouraging older employees to retire

Some companies will offer older employees retirement packages as an incentive to get them to retire. Those that turn down the package may be coerced into accepting it. Some companies may even fire employees that refuse to take the package. Mandatory retirement is only legal for specific professions such as firefighting and law enforcement.

Making age-related comments

Managers or other employees may make age-related comments when speaking to or about an older employee. These comments may be made in a demeaning tone and may be akin to harassment. They may include phrases such as ‘fresh faces,’ ‘young blood,’ or people who are ‘set in their ways.’

Being passed over for promotions

Some companies may frustrate older employees by passing them over when promotions are being made. They may only promote younger employees instead of older and more experienced employees. They may also give older employees more responsibilities to fill the gaps left behind in order to frustrate them and force them into retirement.

Not giving older employees opportunities for professional development

This may include reserving training slots for younger employees. Career development opportunities are automatically offered to younger employees.

Ageism is creeping into the workplace. it is important to be able to recognize the common signs of ageism and prevent it from affecting your workplace.