What it is:
Ageism is a form of bias that takes place when someone is discriminated against for their age. Though it’s most often used to refer to someone being discriminated against for being older (especially in the workplace), it can also refer to someone being discriminated against for being young. Just like racism or sexism, ageism is a form of bias that is illegal — the Age Discrimination in Employment Act forbids employers from discriminating against people who are over the age of 40. It’s also really common — 2 out of 3 workers between the ages of 45-74 have seen or experienced age discrimination.
How to spot it:
- Age discrimination can occur in a variety of ways, including harassment (making fun of someone for their age), aspects of employment (hiring, firing, or promoting people based on their age), and employment practices (creating company policies that benefit someone of one age versus another.)
Three ways to fight it:
- File a complaint: If you’ve experienced age discrimination and are over the age of 40, you can report it to the EEOC here.
- Call it out: If you or someone you work with is being belittled or made fun of for their age, step in and say something. You may also want to keep a paper trail (saving emails or texts, or recording the incidents as they occur) in case the discrimination worsens.
- Encourage hiring of all ages: There might be unconscious ways that your employer is discouraging older folks from applying or accepting jobs. Make sure that your employer includes ageism alongside their other diversity and inclusion-related issues, like racism, sexism, and anti-LGBTQ bias in the workplace.
Learn more about age discrimination and how to report it at the EEOC.