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Age discrimination could become more common

Age discrimination is illegal, but it does happen. In fact, it's hard for laws to actually govern the process.

In theory, experts note, refusing to hire someone or paying him or her differently based solely on age is illegal. Workers who do the same jobs and are just as productive need to be paid the same and treated fairly.

That sounds good, but the reality is that there are many different factors that play into the statistics. For example, one may look at the stats and see that older workers don't get new jobs as quickly after being fired. The conclusion could then be drawn that they're being discriminated against.

However, what if older workers simply won't -- or can't -- take some jobs? A job with high physical demands may be impossible for an elderly worker to do. Some older workers, who are used to high wages, may not take lower-paying jobs. Even when discrimination exists, these realities make it hard to prove.

It also may get worse in the near future. Right now, about 19 percent of the working population is made up of those who are 65 or older. By 2060, projections say it will increase to 29 percent. That makes it close to equal with those between 25 and 44 or those between 45 and 64.

As the population of workers grows, discrimination issues could grow as well. That's why it's so important for older workers to know their rights. If you are discriminated against based on your age, there may be legal steps that you can take.

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, "Age Discrimination and Hiring of Older Workers," David Neumark, Ian Burn, and Patrick Button, Feb. 27, 2017

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