Ageism in the Workplace?

November 30, 2017

There has been a lot of discussion lately about “ageism” in the workplace.  People are wondering what this means and what type of steps need to be taken by an employer to avoid age discrimination complaints.

Ageism is the key word being used today to describe attitudes and behaviors in the workplace that reflect negatively on individuals over age 40 or sometimes what we refer to as senior employees.

As the aging of the workforce takes place, there are more and more claims arising that a company is perpetuating a negative work environment against older employees.  This often leads to a claim of age discrimination when an employee is terminated even if the employee is having trouble performing their duties or not being successful in their work performance.  Employers need to look at their workplace and assess all aspects of their work environment to make sure they are not perpetuating a negative view of more senior employees.  Advertising materials or website materials that talk about a young workforce or a “hip” work environment are part of the atmosphere that a company projects that can create negativity relating to senior employees.  This workplace environment can send a message of bias against elder employees and sometimes becomes an exhibit in age discrimination hearings.

This is an interesting challenge for employers who want to attract new employees to the workplace but at the same time want to ensure they are not creating a negative environment for more senior employees.  Company officials need to do an assessment of their work environment to make sure they are not perpetuating a negative work environment for senior employees.

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