Age discrimination is illegal, but it remains widespread at work

This article looks at the problem of age discrimination in the workplace, with a focus on the tech sector.

As the workforce gets older, it is important for companies to understand that older employees have valuable skills that are essential for businesses to succeed. Unfortunately, many older Americans regularly encounter age discrimination, both at work and when trying to find a job. As Forbes reports, a recent study by AARP shows that despite federal laws being in place against age discrimination, the vast majority of older workers say they have personally experienced it and believe such discrimination to be widespread.

How common is age discrimination?

The AARP surveyed more than 3,500 people who were 45 or older and who were either currently working or looking for employment. An astonishing 90 percent of respondents said they believe age discrimination is common, while 61 percent said they had either been victims of age discrimination or had personally witnessed age discrimination at work.

The age discrimination problem seems to be especially bad for women and African-American workers. Women were more likely than men to experience age discrimination, while over 75 percent of African-American respondents said they had personally experienced age discrimination. By comparison, 60 percent of Latinos and 59 percent of white respondents had personal experiences of age discrimination.

Fears of losing their jobs

The problem with age discrimination seems to be especially rife in the tech industry, particularly during the hiring process. As Business Insider reports, a recent study found that Millennials make up 43 percent of the technology sector workforce, compared to just 26 percent of the non-tech workforce. This has led to accusations of bias at many tech companies and the AARP survey showing that many older workers feared losing their jobs over concerns that such bias would make it harder for them to find new work.

Indeed, as Bloomberg reports, tech giant IBM was recently hit with a lawsuit over accusations that its recent round of layoffs targeted older workers in order for it to build a younger workforce. In the past six years, the company has fired over 20,000 employees who were 40 or over. Other big tech companies, including Google, Uber, and Facebook, have also been accused of discriminating against older workers.

Employment discrimination law

Those who may have been victims of employment discrimination need to understand that they do have rights. Unfortunately, the vast majority of instances of age discrimination never get reported, which makes cracking down on this widespread problem all the more difficult. Anybody who has been the victim of such discrimination should contact an employment law attorney as soon as possible. An experienced attorney can help clients understand what rights they may have and whether legal avenues exist to possibly pursue compensation.