Federal law forbids employers from discriminating based on age against any worker 40 or older. That means that if you’re an older American in the workforce, your age is a protected characteristic just like race, sex, religion, national origin and disability.
Despite this, ageism happens all too frequently in the American workplace. Nationwide, the number of age-related discrimination charges filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) doubled from 1990 to 2017 among employees 65 and older.
According to a study of full-time U.S. workers over the age of 40, 44% said they know someone who has experienced age discrimination at work, and 21% said they themselves had been the target of age discrimination. Some 36% said they believe their age has prevented them from being hired for a job after turning 40, and 26% said they think they’re at risk of losing their job because of their age.
However, sadly, this form of discrimination goes vastly underreported. Only 40% of those in the study who said they’d seen or suffered from age discrimination filed a complaint or charge.
Many people are living longer and deciding to postpone their retirement. Thus, the number of older Americans in the workplace is steadily on the rise. It’s projected that by 2024, employees 55 and older will comprise 25% of the U.S. workforce, with the fastest growth rates among workers 65 and older. Of those workers in the study between 40 and 65, some 67% said they plan to continue working after they turn 66.
If you believe you’ve been the victim of age discrimination, it’s critical to understand and protect your rights. Talk to an experienced Kentucky attorney who can sort through the complexities of discrimination and employment law to see that you get the fairest treatment and compensation available.