5 Signs of Ageism in the Workplace

How do I know if I’m being discriminated against at work?

Ageism in the workplace is widespread but can often be tough to notice. Learn more about what ageism might look like and how to combat it!

signs of ageism in the workplace

Ageism in the Workplace


Questions Answered:

  • What is ageism?

  • Signs of ageism in the workplace

  • What to do about ageism when you see it

  • Can you sue for age discrimination?


Did you know that 64% of workers say that they have either seen or experienced some form of age discrimination in the workplace.

That’s Just Wrong!

Not only does ageism create a toxic work environment, but it's also illegal, as the Workforce Investment Act was passed in 1998.

Whether it’s ageism against young professionals or older workers, employees can band together to stand up against mistreatment in the workplace.


What is Ageism?

The World Health Organization defines Ageism as the stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination against people on the basis of their age. Ageism is widespread and an insidious practice which has harmful effects on the health of older (and younger) adults.

When ageism is present, workers are often overlooked for employment, restricted from social services and stereotyped in the media. - WHO


Ageism in the Workplace Meme | imgflip.com

Ageism in the Workplace Meme | imgflip.com

5 Signs of Ageism in the Workplace (Ageism Examples)

1. Performance Reviews Suffer

This can be particularly noticeable when your company gets a new CEO. Older employees who used to get stellar reviews suddenly start getting poor performance reviews after the C-level transition.

This might also happen to workers who are very young in comparison to everyone else.


2. Older Employees Are Being Let Go

Employees should be laid off based on performance, not age. You might notice a trend in only older employees being fired.

If there's an uptick in younger employees replacing them, that's a huge red flag.


3. People Make Malicious Jokes About Age

There's a difference between coworker banter and subtle jabs. It may be a sign of ageism if the younger or older people are constantly being made fun of for things like poor health or retirement.

On the other hand, they may also be aggressive toward younger employees by equating age with immaturity and inexperience.


4. Exclusion From Opportunities

A clear sign of ageism in the workplace is when opportunities are offered exclusively to middle aged workers. These can be anything from educational coursework and time off for family commitments to things like promotions and raises.

The youngest employees may also be excluded from opportunities because of how "green" they are.


5. Reassignment to Undesired Tasks

If a company is trying to get rid of its older or youngest workers, they may resort to assigning them with undesired tasks instead of outright firing them. By doing so, they might preemptively quit on their own.



What to Do If You See Ageism in the Workplace

Whether it's you or another worker facing ageism in the workplace, there are several steps you can take to be an advocate.

  • First of all, document all instances of ageism, including the time, people involved, and other important details. Note down witness names if there are any.

  • Speak to your employer and let them know rights under the ADEA are being violated.

  • The victim can also choose to file a formal complaint within 300 days of the original date of discriminatory action.

  • It may even be best to seek the legal counsel of an employment attorney, as they can advise you on the best steps to take next.

Can you sue for age discrimination?

If you've been treated poorly at work based on your age, you may have grounds to sue your organization for age discrimination.

For additional information on age discrimination, check out the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.


Wrapping Up | Ageism in the Workplace 2021

Now that you know the signs of ageism in the workplace, you'll be able to recognize it early on.

Unfortunately, not every employer looks out for their employees' best interests. If you find this is the case, then don't feel guilty about seeking employment somewhere else. 

You should feel comfortable at work and not have to face a toxic environment on a daily basis.

Best of luck!

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Title: 5 Signs of Ageism in the Workplace

Category: Employment Resources

Tags: Ageism definition, ageism meaning, ageism in the workplace, signs of ageism, what is ageism, ageism against young professionals, ageism examples, How do I know if I’m being discriminated against at work, ageism in the workplace 2021


Author: Reid is a contributor to theJub. He's an employment and marketing enthusiast who studied business before taking on various recruiting, management, and marketing roles. More from the author.