3 ways age discrimination can impact a workforce

The government has created numerous laws, regulations and restrictions to ensure the American workforce is not mistreated. Unfortunately, many types of discrimination, unfair treatment and harassment go undetected as managers often bury them behind numerous layers of corporate policies and practiced maneuvers.

Many forms of harassment and discrimination are obvious actions or acts of retaliation. Others, however, might be more covert. Age discrimination, for example, can be couched as a hiring practice or how projects are doled out within the organization. The keen observer, however, can often link the action to organizational mistreatment. This often happens in three potential ways:

  • Recruitment and hiring policies: Many organizations highlight open positions in such a way that could either discourage or outright eliminate qualified candidates. By focusing too much on youthful energy or someone straight out of college, the company could be discriminating based on age. Further, hiring for a “culture fit” could be coded language that they are looking to fill the position with a young, tech-savvy candidate.
  • Tasks or training assignments: Many organizations offer exciting projects or training opportunities to workers showing the most potential for advancement. Unfortunately, this potential is often limited to the younger members of the workforce. Additionally, assuming the worker is technology-averse can lead to managers failing to offer exciting opportunities to older employees.
  • Layoffs or termination: Companies must often reorganize or restructure to make room for new business lines or products. Unfortunately, when this forces out the older employees to make way for a “freshened” workforce, age discrimination is often the root cause.

Age discrimination can take many forms – some overt and others more hidden. While it is an illegal practice, numerous organizations discriminate against their employees based on age, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, country of origin or other factors. Decisions made based on an employee’s membership in a protected class rather than work performance opens the company up to numerous severe consequences.