How to Avoid Age Discrimination in the Workplace

By Jezabel Southard

Posted on April 6, 2018

While the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits age discrimination in a wide range of circumstances, 66 percent of workers ages 45 to 74 say they’ve seen or experienced age discrimination at work. Job seekers over 35 say age discrimination is one of the top reasons they have trouble getting hired.

In an ideal workplace, every employee would be assigned to tasks that fit their skills and strengths. In practice, however, other biases – such as those surrounding age – can lead to problems or to perceived problems.

Here’s how to spot age discrimination at work and ways to fix or prevent discrimination issues:

Don’t assume age discrimination only happens “on the job.”

The ADEA prohibits age discrimination in hiring as well as in promotions, raises and layoffs. To avoid the near appearance of age discrimination during the hiring process, avoid asking questions that might reveal an applicant’s age, such as how long ago they finished high school or college. Your recruiter can help you focus interview questions on the skills needed for the job.

Consider who you cut.

Offering buyouts to a few senior staff to free up payroll space for younger workers can sound like a cost-effective option – but a company that makes a habit of this practice increases its chances of age discrimination. Instead, use buyouts sparingly and talk to your staffing firm about ways to control your hiring budget while still having access to the talent you need.

Document every staffing decision.

The perception that they’ve been assigned to unpleasant duties or denied a rightful raise lies behind many older workers’ ADEA claims. Build a habit of documenting the reasons behind every staffing decision, from raises and promotions to reassignment or demotion. Use quantitative data whenever you can.

An increasing amount of data shows that a diverse and inclusive workforce is a happy, engaged, and productive workforce. Explore our content on diversity and inclusion to gain a competitive edge while maintaining compliance:

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Be clear about your culture.

Even comments that are intended to be friendly, like “So when do you plan to retire?” can come across as problematic when they’re about age (or race or sex or any other protected category). Focus on building a culture where performance and mutual support are the key values – not commenting on age or other factors, even as a joke.

Rely on an expert.

Your staffing partner specializes in the field of recruiting and HR, so don’t hesitate to ask for help! Their market and industry expertise can help you navigate the complexities of HR laws and assist you in hiring top talent.

How TERRA Can Help

Are you looking for a great recruiting partner in the Pacific Northwest or Arizona? We can help.

At TERRA Staffing, our clients have voted us onto Inavero’s Best of Staffing® list seven years running.

This track record of success is something we’re proud of, and we strive to improve our client service every year. To learn how we can help your business thrive, find one our branches today.

Categories: Diversity & Inclusion

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