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Is age bias on the rise?

The experiences of older workers in the job market lead to the inescapable conclusion that age is being used by some employers as a means to discriminate in hiring and promotion. The cumulative effect of age discrimination is hard to pinpoint, as relatively few employers are foolish enough to admit to candidates that they weren't hired because they'd had the audacity to turn 50, or 40, or whatever age the employer decided was unacceptable. A recent study demonstrates that age discrimination is a large problem, and it may be growing worse.

Call-back rate

Researchers used applied for real jobs using resumes identical in every way but one: age. Older "applicants" were less likely to be contacted for an interview. The problem grew worse as the age of the applicant went from young to middle-aged and from middle-aged to older. The group that fared worst was applicants identified as older women. Bias against older workers existed among males, as well, but the problem was less pronounced. 

Punished for having experience

Employers too cagey to openly declare their illegal bias often look for a proxy to discriminate against older workers. Jobs calling for applicants fresh out of college are less likely to draw older applicants. Some employers have gone so far as to automatically eliminate any applicants who have too much experience in a given field. The point at which these efforts demonstrate actionable age discrimination is heavily dependent on the facts of the specific case.

An older workforce

Age discrimination is a particular problem now, when a growing percentage of the population is older and economic conditions may be forcing them to delay retirement. Issues outside the control of older workers are forcing them to keep working or look for work. When jobs are closed to them for no other reason than their age, that is an unacceptable state of affairs.

Source:, "Too Much Experience To Be Hired? Some Older Americans Face Age Bias," by Ina Jaffe, 24 March 2017 

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