According to the AARP, 35 percent of the American workforce will be over age 50 by 2022, which is up from 25 percent in 2022. This means a larger number of older workers will be competing for jobs that may be difficult to get for many reasons. A poor economy means that employers are not always looking for more experienced workers who may be more expensive than younger workers.
In practice, it is illegal to discriminate against an individual based on his or her age. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act was passed in 1967 to protect the rights of older workers, but the Supreme Court has narrowed the law through several rulings since then. For instance, an individual must show that age was the primary reason he or she faced discrimination as opposed to merely a contributing reason.
Employers also have tactics that they use to discourage older workers from applying for jobs or discourage them from showing up to jobs that they do have. For example, familiarity with digital tools may be required from those who apply for jobs. Employers may also ask current employees to drive long distances to work in the hopes that those long commutes will convince them to retire or otherwise leave on their own.
Older employees may also be discriminated against based on attributes such as their gender, religion or age. However, those who feel as if age was a defining factor in a termination or other adverse event may wish to pursue legal action against the employer. An attorney may be able to review the case to determine if age was the main factor in actions taken against an employee. If it can be proven, an employee may be entitled to back pay, punitive damages and reinstatement after wrongful termination.