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Age discrimination in the workplace

If you're an older or even a very young worker, you need to understand what age discrimination is. Age discrimination is discrimination that is strictly based on your age, not your abilities. For instance, if you apply to be a teller at a bank at age 21 with the same skills as someone who is 41, you shouldn't be turned away because you're younger.

The Age Discrimination Act of 1975 strictly prohibits discrimination based on age in any activity that receives compensation from the federal government. Another act, the Age Discrimination Act of 1967, protects those who are 40 or older from discrimination based on age during hiring, while employed, with promotions, when considering compensation or terms of employment, or for discharge.

Here are a few examples. Consider a situation where you're applying for a job as a 50-year-old person. The company seems to primarily have younger people hired, under the age of 30. If you're turned away and find out someone with less experience has been given the role, you may be able to begin a case against the company. It is helpful if you can provide other evidence, though, like the interviewer asking about your age, health, or other concerns.

Another consideration might be if you're fired or laid off from your job while other, younger employees are kept on the schedule. As long as you're doing your job and don't have marks against you, then simply terminating you because of your age is illegal. If you can prove that your age was a factor, you may have a wrongful termination case against your employer.

Source: Department of Labor, "Age Discrimination," accessed April 12, 2016

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