Trying to find a job later in life can prove difficult, because many employers, regardless of whether they want to admit it, have some type of bias against hiring individuals once they reach a certain age. While the Age Discrimination in Employment Act makes it illegal for employers of 20 or more people to discriminate against workers 40 or above, job seekers 35 and over say their age is the single biggest hurdle preventing them from effectively finding employment.
Just how widespread is age discrimination in the American workplace?
Age discrimination statistics
While age discrimination is often more prevalent in particular industries, including the technology and entertainment industries, it can affect anyone, regardless of work environment or field. In fact, AARP reports that age discrimination is now so common across the United States that two out of every three workers between 45 and 74 assert that they have been victims of it. Additionally, eight out of every 10 American workers 50 and older believe that age discrimination is enough of a problem that legislators need to do more to ensure it does not continue to hold older adults back from finding employment.
While many people who report experiencing age discrimination say they suffered this type of treatment during the hiring process, it can actually occur at virtually any stage of the hiring, employment or firing processes. Your employer cannot, for example, fire you because you are now “over the hill” if you still otherwise perform your job duties in the same manner you always have. Your boss also cannot fire you in favor of hiring a younger, less experienced worker who would likely accept lower pay, because this, too, could potentially constitute age discrimination.
While these are some examples of how age discrimination can manifest in today’s workplace, please recognize that this is not an exhaustive list of all ways age discrimination can occur.