It is often difficult to catch a business in the act of discrimination. In some cases, companies are foolish enough to publicize illegal practices. Most of the time, however, one must gather small pieces of evidence that, when taken together, demonstrate a violation of workers’ rights.
Age discrimination may be even harder to pin down than other forms. The reason for this is that age discrimination is often couched in seemingly reasonable financial terms. It is not animus that drives many of these cases. It is simply an effort to push out older, more experienced workers to replace them with cheaper, younger workers.
No relief for the weary
It is of no help to older workers that they are discriminated against without hostility. A worker fired for having the audacity to turn 50 is just as unemployed as one fired for other protected reasons. An applicant who can’t get a job because she’s “too experienced” is in the same position as any other out of work person. The fact that businesses push them aside calmly, and with an eye on the bottom line, is immaterial.
A worker in Tennessee recently filed suit against Volkswagen AG for behavior that likely sounds familiar to many older workers. The company makes efforts to be more “modern” and high-tech. They want to change their “old ways” and move in a new direction. Suddenly, workers past a certain age find it harder to move up, or even stay in their position. They are demoted. Their responsibilities or hours are cut. Their jobs are eliminated, despite the company creating new jobs to do substantially the same thing as the old jobs. The end result is that older workers are systematically discriminated against.
Age discrimination must be fought. It is an illegal practice that threatens virtually every worker at some point in their careers. Anyone who has found themselves the victim of age discrimination, or its frequent partner, age harassment, should consider taking steps to hold the employer accountable. Age discrimination is unjust.