Age Discrimination in Hiring: What Are Its Repercussions?

Age discrimination in hiring happens. The law says it should not, but we all know that there are going to be employers who want to hire (or not hire) people based on age, looks, religion, race and so forth. The question is, what happens when an employer clearly violates the law of not discriminating based on age. Here is a look at various situations and repercussions as a result of discrimination.

Situation One

A fifty-three-year-old man has worked hard and has earned nice merit pay raises over a period of thirty years. He is making a decent living. If things go well with him, he should be able to retire by the time he is sixty-two. Only nine years to go. Meanwhile, the boss is approached by a twenty-five year old male who desires a job and is willing to work for dollars-per-hour less than our subject. The boss gets to thinking about it, and he decides “for the good of the company” he will layoff the older man, and a month or two later he will hire the younger one.

Situation Two

A forty-five year old woman loses her husband to a heart attack. He left only a small insurance policy, and it is not enough for his wife to live on for more than a few months. She has no other family, and its been ten years since she was last employed. She finds she must now re-enter the workforce. She has some skills, and she is familiar with some office software, having had a home computer. She applies, but job after job goes to younger women who are pretty and just out of school.


The verb ‘discriminate’ does not automatically carry with it a negative connotation. The man or woman of discernment might be said to be discriminating in the actions they take in life, meaning they are careful in evaluating beforehand what they will do in any particular situation. Still, there is an undesirable connotation to that verb. Some will make a choice for an invalid or illegal reason. In order to cover that fact over, the one doing the discriminating may use rationalization – the finding of some other reason, they can make for not being fair to the one discriminated against. Some may say that an older person can’t do quality work like a younger person can. Is this true? Perhaps there is an element of truth to it. Older ones generally can’t lift as much. They can’t move as quickly. They can’t see as well. They can’t hear as well. But if one is able to compensate for these features of aging, the qualities of the older one often excel way beyond these shortcomings. Increased knowledge gained by experience, resulting in increased wisdom. Greater patience. Less impulsiveness. More persistence.

What are some of the repercussions of age discrimination? No one wants to be discriminated against. It is an injustice, and humans are creatures who desire justice be served them. It may lead to feelings of unworthiness, as if the person deserved the treatment, perhaps resulting in depression or even suicide. It puts a burden on existing family members, if there are any, as they naturally become responsible to take care of ‘their own.’ If there is no family, the burden of looking after the needs of the person may fall upon “the state.” The state is the taxpayer.

Some “wink their eye” at such discrimination, as long as it does not affect them, personally. One wonders how they would feel if it was their wife, husband, father, or mother that was mistreated.

It May Be Against the Law

There is an act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which makes much (but not all) age discrimination illegal. This act does not apply in all situations. Also, discrimination is a matter of the heart, so while it may make certain manifestations of discrimination unlikely to occur, it cannot legislate a person’s attitude. Some people will find some basis to discriminate and some way to accomplish it, no matter what the law.

What Can Be Done If You Are Discriminated Against?

It is always best to tackle problems in the mildest and most direct ways possible. For instance, if your immediate supervisor seems to be discriminating against you, why not approach him first? It is the kind thing to do, and the problem may be easily resolved without going any further. What if he refuses to listen to you and hear your concerns? You can go to his supervisor, assuming he has one and discuss the situation. But what if you get no satisfaction from any of your superiors?

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC, can be contacted. This agency is meant to handle matters involving the ADEA.

If for some reason that does not work out, if you feel you are in the right, you have the legal right to go to court. Note that in the case of going to the EEOC and to the courts, there are time limits involved. Time is of the essence.

In Conclusion

How should you not feel? If you are, in fact, discriminated against, there is no need to feel yourself a failure or to feel you shouldn’t make appeal because the “system is against the little guy.” Although it is possible you will not receive a satisfactory response, one cannot cry if one doesn’t try. It is why these agencies are there, to handle cases such as your own.

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