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Age discrimination practices in the workplace

On Behalf of | Jan 23, 2023 | Employment Law

Idaho workers face age discrimination and its adverse effects, like poor morale, lack of confidence and depression. Historically, ageism targeted older workers, but ageism also affects younger workers in vast numbers. One example is when younger workers get passed over for promotion because they’re considered too young to lead.

Ageism is nuanced and varies by industry, locale, and employment law enforcement. There’re three categories of ageism in the workplace: institutionalized, interpersonal and internalized.

Employment law prohibits discrimination based on age; however, enforcing these laws depends on other factors. For example, if an older worker starts to slow down in completing tasks, their anxiety from internal ageism might display low performance. If a manager reprimands them with a statement such as, “Hurry up, old guy,” that adds an institutional element to an ageism claim which violates employment law.

Examples of institutional ageism in the workplace

These examples indicate institutional ageism when workplace norms, policies, and practices don’t support older workers or force a set retirement age. Slowing down is a natural part of aging, as is loss of hearing and vision.

Back braces or other medical aid devices like glasses or hearing aids demonstrate institutionalized ageism when older workers are made fun of for needing medical equipment.

Employment laws regarding interpersonal ageism in the workplace

Practices like bullying, alienating, ostracizing, teasing and avoiding aging workers are examples of interpersonal ageism in the workplace. Employment law cannot force people to engage nicely with one another, but it does intervene to protect older workers from interpersonal workplace harm. Workplace laws prohibit discrimination based on age, disability, religion and other factors.

Adverse effects of internalized ageism in the workplace

When older workers view themselves as unworthy or incapable of performing well at work, they experience the effects of internalized ageism in their health and wellness. Anxiety and depression, heart disease and obesity often appear in older workers who fear they can no longer perform as expected at work.

Employment law doesn’t enforce low self-esteem practices on employers, but companies must make appropriate accommodations when older workers fall into a protected class.