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What is Age Discrimination, and What Does it Look Like?

Age discrimination is a surprisingly common phenomenon, one that unfairly harms workers all across the United States. When people are the victims of this type of discrimination, they can potentially lose income, time, or business opportunities for no reason other than their age. But what exactly is age discrimination, and how do you know what it is when it is happening?


What is Age Discrimination? In simple terms, age discrimination is when an employer chooses to treat a worker unfairly due to their age, typically because they are older than they employer likes. There are a number of reasons that employers tend to prefer younger workers, including the fact that younger workers are less likely to be burdened with family obligations, tend to be more physically fit, and can command smaller salaries due to their relative lack of experience. While different employers may have different policies, typically employees can claim age discrimination when they are 40 or older. What Are the Signs of Age Discrimination? There are many potential signs of age discrimination. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Firing employees once they reach a particular age

  • Forcing older employees to retire, or offering them buyouts

  • Refusing to grant promotions or raises to older workers

  • Refusing to grant requests for sick leave or vacation

  • Performance reviews suddenly get worse without explanation

  • Superiors make insulting comments about a person’s age

  • Reassigning older employees to less desirable job duties

  • Retaliating against employees who report age discrimination

How Does Age Discrimination Hurt Workers? When people become the victims of this type of discrimination, they can find their opportunities for advancement or job growth extremely limited. In some cases, it can cost them their jobs, forcing them to seek employment at an age where they will need to compete against younger workers who are often willing to accept a lower salary. The older a worker is when they experience discrimination, the harder it can be for them to recover from its effects. What Can You Do If You Are Discriminated Against? If you or someone at your workplace has been the victim of age discrimination, you should report it to your Human Resources department, if your company has one. You may also want to consider reporting it with your state’s Department of Labor, or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). You should also speak to a lawyer with experience handling employment law claims, who can help you with your case. Steven Mitchell Sack, the Employee’s Lawyer, is a New York employment lawyer with more than 41 years’ experience handling the many aspects of employment law. His new book, “Fired!: Protect Your Rights & FIGHT BACK If You’re Terminated, Laid Off, Downsized, Restructured, Forced to Resign or Quit,” is available in hardback, and contains valuable advice on dealing with employment and labor law issues. To purchase the book, feel free to contact Steven Sack at 917-371-8000 or visit the website at To inquire about a legal matter, please feel free to contact attorney Steven Sack at 917-371-8000 or

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