Subtle forms of workplace age discrimination

On Behalf of | Dec 21, 2023 | Age Discrimination |

Today’s dynamic workforce is diverse in backgrounds and ages. Unfortunately, the strides toward inclusivity have not eliminated workplace age discrimination. As employees, you should understand the nuances of this practice.

There are some subtle signs of age discrimination that you might otherwise overlook.

Exclusionary behavior

One subtle sign of age discrimination is exclusion from key decision-making processes. Sometimes employers push older workers aside when making decisions about future goals and projects. They might assume that younger workers are more proactive and in touch with what customers want. This may qualify as age discrimination.

Sudden responsibility shift

Another potential sign of age discrimination is an unexplained shift in your responsibilities. If you notice reductions in your workload and reassignment to younger co-workers without explanation, it may be an age-related bias.

Tech literacy bias

The digital age is transforming work environments. Unfortunately, many employers have a bias toward younger workers because of perceived tech-savvy skills. You might find your expertise undervalued because of age-related assumptions about your technology proficiency. If so, that could be cause for concern.

Microaggressions in the workplace

Subtle age discrimination often manifests through microaggressions in communication. You might hear offhand remarks or jokes that undermine your contributions based on stereotypical age assumptions. For example, offhand comments about “keeping up” or even age-based nicknames are problematic. These types of statements, even when said jokingly, can be discriminatory.

Recognizing subtle signs of age discrimination is crucial for fostering an inclusive and diverse work environment. Statistics show that age discrimination complaints accounted for 21% of the cases received by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2020. This highlights the frequency of these types of incidents, especially when you consider how many cases never get reported. Stand up for your rights and address even the subtle forms of age discrimination in your workplace.


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