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Understanding Age Discrimination in The Workplace

Feb. 19, 2021

An employee with years of experience should be seen as an asset who can give a company a competitive advantage and bring a wealth of knowledge to the field they work in. Instead, sometimes these older, experienced employees can face age discrimination.

It’s helpful for employees to understand how this type of discrimination is defined and what steps they can take to address it.

Age Discrimination

The Age Discrimination Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of age. It applies to companies with 20 or more employees.

It protects applicants and employees 40 years of age and older from discrimination in hiring, promotion, discharge, compensation and other aspects of employment. It is enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

This law also generally prohibits including age preferences in job notices or advertisements. In addition, while it is not prohibited, an employer’s request for a job applicant’s age or date of birth could indicate its intent to discriminate based on age.

Age discrimination may also be demonstrated if the employer only hires younger employees, encourages older workers to retire or eliminates a position in order to replace the worker with a younger employee.


It is also against the law to harass a person because of his or her age. This includes conduct that creates a hostile or offensive work environment. It can also include conduct that results in an adverse employment decision like firing or demotion.

If an employee is concerned that he or she has been discriminated against in the workplace, an attorney can review the circumstances of the situation and provide advice about next steps. Age discrimination is unacceptable and workers should know they have a remedy under the law.