In the 1960s, a popular slogan of young people was "Don't trust anyone over 30." Unfortunately, many of the same people who uttered these words back in the day are seeing this attitude being used against them in the form of age discrimination in the workplace.
Getting older has long been a joke to many, but a lot of baby boomers are finding themselves too busy fighting back to laugh. Many baby boomers have seen their retirement accounts take a hit with the relatively recent economic fallout, and with longer expected life spans, they realize that they need to stay in the workplace longer. The workplace isn't making it easier.
How Discrimination Is Encouraged
Despite the fact that age discrimination of those over age 40 is forbidden by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), job postings are often expressly designed to discourage older workers from applying. Some cap the number of years of experience. Others encourage "recent college graduates" to apply. Some ask that applicants have innovative minds and suggest that they should fit in with a young team.
According to a Washington Post article, one older applicant was told he was turned down for a position because the company was concerned he wouldn't want to report to a younger boss. But he, and many other boomers, realize that by being in the workplace past 50, a younger boss is almost inevitable - if they can get a boss at all. More and more people are filing complaints with the EEOC, creating a backlog and an even steeper battle.
Those who are assigned to counsel older job seekers do so by suggesting they hide their age by updating their resumes to leave off jobs held during the 1980s, and updating their wardrobes and hairstyles.
While discrimination still happens to other protected classes, such as the LGBT community, women and disabled people, these classes seem to have experienced more progress toward equality in recent years.
Beyond The Job Market
While ageism in the job market can be very serious, it is highly tolerated by society in general. Birthday cards poke fun at getting older, Internet memes make fun of those from the boomer generation, and even some 40-something GenXers laugh at baby boomers.
Fighting Back, With Help
Even though fighting back is difficult, it is not impossible. Age discrimination laws are there, in part, to recognize that there is value to every generation -- not just those that are up and coming, but those who have been around long enough to gain some perspective. Your birth date shouldn't stop you from applying for a job. It should also not be the thing that prevents you from moving forward in your existing career.
Employment attorneys are able to look at many different details about your job search and/or a company's hiring and promotion practices. If you feel that you may have experienced age discrimination, don't hesitate to talk with a lawyer.