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Why do so many employers discriminate against older workers?

Despite the increased awareness of workplace discrimination thanks to the #MeToo movement, some demographics feel that their work problems aren’t getting any easier. Even though there’s been a massive push against employers that display signs of sexual harassment and racism, there are still nearly two out of three workers over 45 years old that experience age discrimination on the job.

With statistics like that, it’s apparent that many employers think they can get away with treating older workers or job applicants poorly. If you are an older worker, it may be in your best interest to understand why this problem is plaguing so many industries so you can prepare against possible retaliation from your boss.

It’s easier to tie to performance

Most employment discrimination cases arise after a worker is wrongfully terminated from their position. Common defenses that employers use is that they fired the worker because of the employee’s poor behavior or work performance. The court may evaluate how well the worker performed based on sales numbers, witness statements from coworkers and various other factors. If they determine that the worker did not falter in their job, then the defendant’s claims start looking suspicious.

Older workers may have a harder time challenging these claims because of the ever-changing work environment. Maybe it’s getting heavier to lift objects after being at the company for so many years. Perhaps they need someone who can work with multiple computer programs besides Microsoft Word.

They could potentially set you up to fail by changing workplace necessities too quickly and force you to adapt to something you have little to no experience with or cannot physically handle. Some older workers even get fired because the employers believe their age makes them less attractive or sexually appealing, as evidenced from a recent lawsuit against Saks Fifth Avenue by former waitresses.

There are less protections

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act is usually referred to in cases of employment discrimination, but that doesn’t include age discrimination within it. Instead, plaintiffs refer to an extension of Title VII called the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Lawmakers have been trying for decades to either introduce a new bill or incorporate age discrimination into Title VII to strengthen protections for older workers that file a lawsuit against their employers.

Despite how much is going against it, winning an age discrimination lawsuit isn’t impossible. New Jersey employers still must make efforts to accommodate a worker’s older age or disability instead of immediately firing them to hire younger faces. If you or a loved one are facing this problem at work, contact an employment law attorney to help you file your claim.

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