No matter where you’re employed, your workplace should be free from discrimination. Discrimination at work is not unique to just a few types of businesses, but is prevalent across all industries.
What is age discrimination?
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) outlawed discrimination against individuals 40 years of age or older in 1967. Discrimination can arise at any point in employment, from the application process to termination. California supported the federal law with its own Fair Employment and Housing Act, which specified that any business with at least five employees could be prosecuted for age discrimination.
What industries are affected?
According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), older workers most commonly work jobs that require a college education or ongoing physical activity.
The top five occupations for older workers in the United States are:
- Elementary, middle and high school teachers, with older workers making up 6.3% of the workforce
- Secretaries and administrators, with older workers making up 6% of the workforce
- Delivery workers/truckers, with older workers making up 3.95% of the workforce
- Personal care aides, with older workers making up 3.6% of the workforce
- Registered nurses, with older workers making up 3.45% of the workforce
Age discrimination, however, is most common in high-tech jobs. With 1.8 million people employed in tech industries, California has the largest number of high-tech workers in the United States, potentially putting tech companies at a greater risk for age discrimination claims. However, the EEOC notes that older workers in the tech industry face the highest rates of age discrimination with 70% of older workers in Information Technology claimed they had seen or experienced age discrimination in the workplace.
Are there differences across race and gender?
According to the EEOC, most teachers, administrators and health care workers tend to be women. As a result, women experience higher rates of age discrimination at work than men.
At 77%, black workers reported the highest rates of seeing or experiencing age discrimination, followed by Hispanic and Latino workers at 61%.
However, the number of ADEA charges filed with the EEOC and other agencies does not reflect these rates. Global specialist insurer Hiscox says that victims of age discrimination avoid filing charges for fear of creating a hostile work environment or because they don’t know how to start the process.
What should I do if I experience ageism at work?
In California, the best avenue for addressing workplace age discrimination is contacting the Department of Fair Employment and Housing. The Department of Fair Employment and Housing requires victims to obtain a Right To Sue notice before filing lawsuits. For help getting a Right To Sue notice or determining whether you have been a victim of employment age discrimination, work with an employment professional with experience in ADEA matters.