Workplace Ageism


Discriminating against anyone in the workplace simply because of their assumed or actual age is against the law. Every stage of employment including recruitment, terms and conditions of the workplace, and dismissal are all protected by the law for employees. Assumptions and stereotypes about seniors and young people can affect the decisions taken in a workplace in a great way.

The elderly and younger employees sometimes experience discrimination in their place of work due to their age range. This act is what is known as ageism. Employers are basically not allowed to use the age of a person as a criteria to hire, promote, fire, or decide the level of compensation a person can get. However, determining whether an employer used age as a factor to determine his/her actions can be quite difficult to denote as he/she can say they had the genuine belief that someone else could do the job in a better way. Most states have fact finding procedures that help employees determine whether they have been victims of ageism and to help them assert their rights.

Some of the ways in which age discrimination can be portrayed in employment include;

  • Making advert for someone to be part of a “dynamic, young team”.
  • Not employing older workers, assuming/ jumping into the conclusion that they will soon retire
  • Not employing youthful workers, assuming/jumping into the conclusion that they will move on to another job soon.
  • Not rendering interviews simply because the person is too old or too young to “fit in” with other employees.
  • Forcing someone to retire, or making choices around redundancy because of someone’s age.
  • Not providing older or youthful employees with training opportunities because it’s not “worth it”.


Ageism or age discrimination against mature age workers is quite rampant. Senior workers commonly complain about them experiencing discrimination when applying for jobs simply because of their age. There are also complaints of being overlooked for promotion and training. Also some seniors are being forced by employers to take redundancy packages or go into retirement. The truth of the matter is that ageism and compulsory retirement are not just against the law, they are also bad for business and very costly for the community and the employers also.


No, not all older workers are protected by the law. There are some exceptions, and these exceptions are listed below;

  • Employees in “high policy making decision” or other executives can be asked to retire at the age of sixty five as long as they will be provided with an annual retirement pension benefit worth forty four thousand dollars or more.
  • Special exceptions are in place for fire and police personnel, certain federal employees and tenured university faculty that have jobs related to law enforcement, and air traffic control. Should you find yourself in any of these exceptions, you may want to consult your attorney or your personnel office for more details.
  • There is also an exception when age is a vital requirement for the job. This is legally known as BFOQ, “bona fide occupational qualification”. For instance, if a teen clothing store is in need of models, or a company wants an actor to play the role of a ten year old, the ability to look youthful is an essential part of the job or a BFOQ.