Age Discrimination: a Two Way Street

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Age Discrimination

Throughout our childhood growing up, one was always taught to respect your elders and told that you could learn something from them. Or have you heard someone mention that you were too young to know what you were talking about? You may have been being exposed to your first personal encounter with age discrimination or ageism.

Age discrimination is possibly the most widespread form of employment discrimination that there is because anyone regardless of nationality, color, gender or race can be affected by this particular form of discrimination. This type of discrimination takes the focus off of a person’s job competency and/or skill levels and places erroneously on that individual’s calendar age. Excluding applicants for hire or current employees form possible promotion or remaining employed based on their age is against the law.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) of 1967 was enacted because the age variable was missing from Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The ADEA prohibits the discrimination of employment on the basis of age against individuals that are forty years old or older. It was originally enacted to promote the ability and support/secure older workers in today’s workforce, however as of recently it has also been referenced to in regards to younger workers claiming discrimination based on age. For the act to apply an employer must have over twenty or more employees and the business activities must in no way affect interstate commerce. The act itself covers terms, conditions, compensation and other such things as health insurance. All job requirements must be truly job related. Employers are also not allowed to lower the wage rate of an employee to comply with the act. Things such as segregating, limiting or classifying an individual that will adversely affect an employee’s job performance or employment because of their age is also forbidden. Forbidden also are benefits plans or seniority systems that call for involuntary requirements due to a person’s age. The ADEA originally gave statutory protection against discrimination to anyone over forty years old.

This type of discrimination can have both negative and positive impacts on businesses. Companies could lose valuable assets to their companies not to mention the risk of legal issues and being cited for age discrimination. State and federal laws have made it more difficult for companies to participate in this type of illegal practice. There are many different ways that age discrimination can occur, examples could include but are not limited to: * The impact of losing the years of experience and/or knowledge that an older (seasoned) worker may have. * The impact of losing the most up to date/latest skills and/or knowledge that a younger employee may bring to the table. * Cutting older workers because they make more money and hiring younger workers to do the same job and pay them less. * Employers adopting a “last one in, first one out” type of mentality. * The possible impact such actions could have on the employer.

Many people think that age discrimination only pertains to older employees but age discrimination is a two way street that can affect not only the elderly but the young also. There are certain instances where a person’s young age may prohibit them from entering into employment due to legal reasons such as alcohol or licenses issues. Age discrimination refers to any actions that are taken that deny or limit opportunities to people based on their age. This can include both an institutional and a personal level. Arguments have been made both for and against both situations.

Age discrimination based on a person’s advanced age is of course the most well known forms of discrimination that is addressed typically. Although at one time the practice of dismissing older employees was once common practice,...
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