What is ageism in the workplace?

Pennsylvania residents who are over 40 and especially over the age of 50 may have experienced ageism in the workplace. This form of discrimination is pervasive even when it is not overt, making it important to know the signs.

People who live and work in Pennsylvania should be able to trust that they will seek for work and perform their jobs in environments that are free of discrimination. This discrimination may be based on a variety of factors. These include gender, religious preference, national background, sexual preference and even age.

The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission clearly states that federal legislation bans outright discrimination against any of several protected classes. There is an additional law called the Age Discrimination in Employment Act that outlaws age-based discrimination.

Despite the legal protections that are in place, ageism is a reality for too many Pennsylvania workers.

The different forms of ageism

Age discrimination can take many forms. AARP explains that some of these include layoffs of older workers followed by the hiring of or promoting of younger workers into the same roles. Another sign of potential ageism is a series of unprecedented negative performance reviews for a person who has a long history of positive feedback.

HR Dive notes that ageism can creep into job postings in some more subtle ways. A posting may not specifically call out the desire for a person under the age of 30 but it may identify the desire for a "digital native" to apply for the role. A digital native, by definition, is a millennial.

Other cues in job postings that older workers should watch out for are photos on company's websites showing their employee population. If these photos are full of millennials, that could send a signal to older candidates that the environment is not friendly to them.

Recruiting changes required

Forbes recommends that companies seeking new employees should try to focus their job descriptions on specific job skills. These skills can be hard like the knowledge of a particular system or technology. The skills could also be soft like positive interpersonal skills or strong writing abilities.

Experienced employees deserve fair treatment

People who have been in the workforce for a two decades, three decades or even longer deserve to be treated equal to their younger counterparts. Anyone who feels that they were negatively impacted in a professional situation due to their age should talk to an experienced employment and discrimination attorney in Pennsylvania. This type of consultation is the best way to get an objective view on the matter and make sure their rights are properly protected.