Age discrimination is any discrimination committed against an employee because of his or her age. It refers specifically to employees over the age of forty from being treated unfairly or skipped over for promotions in favor of younger employees. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 was enacted in response to the issues faced by many middle-aged and older Americans who experienced discrimination and fewer opportunities in their workplaces because of their age.
Examples of Age Discrimination in the Workplace
Discrimination, whether it occurs because of an employee’s age, sex, sexual orientation, race, religion, ethnicity, or disability, is defined as the frequent exclusionary behavior targeted at an individual or group of employees that negatively affects their job productivity. Some examples of age-related discrimination include:
- Harassment. Jokes, mocking, use of slurs or derogatory language targeted at an individual, unwanted physical contact, intimidation, and interference with job duties are all forms of harassment that can occur in the workplace. For harassment to be considered discriminatory, it must be a persistent and mentally, emotionally, or physically damaging to its victim. Isolated instances of harassment are not enough for an individual to file a discrimination lawsuit.
- Refusal to Hire. Refusing to hire an otherwise qualified applicant for a position solely due to his or her age is discrimination. Because of this, it is illegal to ask an interviewee for his or her age or birth year during an interview. Any interview question that indirectly asks for an applicant’s age that does not affect the responsibilities of the position is illegal.
- Refusal to Promote. Passing over a qualified employee for a promotion strictly because of his or her age is a form of age discrimination.
- Termination. Terminating an employee because of his or her age is a violation of both the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and RCW 49.44.090.
When the harassment in a workplace becomes so pervasive that it begins to negatively affect an employee or group of employees’ ability to perform their jobs, the workplace may be considered a hostile work environment. A hostile work environment is any workplace that can reasonably be judged to be hostile by a neutral third party. This is not a legal definition, but a label that is applied to working environments where damaging discrimination has occurred or continues to occur.
All working Americans have the right not only to a hostility-free workplace, but to seek help either from their company’s Human Resources department or from an outside source, such as an employment attorney, without fear of retaliation from their employer. All forms of protest and legal aid that do not threaten or cause harm to the company or its employees are considered to be protected activities under the laws enforced by the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Hostile Work Environment Attorneys Can Help
If you’ve experienced age-related discrimination in your workplace or during your job search, call HKM Employment Attorneys LLP at 206-838-2504 today. Our team of attorneys understands employment law in Washington state and can help you fight for the justice you deserve. Don’t allow yourself to be mistreated or have opportunities taken from you because of your age. As a hardworking American, you deserve a long, successful career built upon your dedication and efforts.