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All About Age Discrimination at Work and Why Successful Lawsuits Are Rare

Employment Ageism. Unfair Social Discrimination

Source: AndreyPopov/iStockphoto/Getty Images 


Discrimination against workers based on their age is illegal in many countries. Yet legal experts say that such unfair treatment, particularly of older workers, is widespread. Ageism is a growing concern for societies with advanced economies as their workforces grow increasingly old. 

Age discrimination is when someone is disadvantaged or treated unfairly because of age. Both young and older people can face it. In the US, the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) of 1967 applies only to those 40 and older, although some state laws cover the young. The ADEA protects job applicants and employees against discrimination in hiring, promotion, termination, compensation, and the terms, conditions or privileges of employment. The UK’s 2010 Equality Act covers both discrimination that is direct, when an employee is treated differently from others because of age, and indirect, when work policies or procedures put an age group at a disadvantage. It also covers harassment -- humiliating, offending or degrading someone for their age -- and victimization -- treating someone badly for calling out age discrimination.