Discrimination is distasteful - in whatever form. It hurts and causes damage to self-esteem among other things. There is no reason strong enough to justify discrimination and this is true of age discrimination as well. That age discrimination is prevalent is an unpleasant fact and if you are lucky, you may never have to face it even once in your life. However if you do face discrimination, either directly or indirectly, then it is indeed a natural instinct to want to stand up and correct the issue in whatever way you can. How do you recognise age discrimination when it happens and what can you do to address it?
Recognizing Age discrimination
When a person loses out on any opportunity or is treated unjustly on the basis of age, then they are said to be discriminated against on the basis of age. Direct age discrimination happens when you are treated unfairly because of your age, when compared to another person of a different age. Indirect age discrimination happens when there is a standard policy, which discriminates against people of a specific age group as compared to another. Age discrimination is unlawful, except where a certain age requirement is necessary as a qualification for certain occupations or the discrimination is positive.
Strategies to Check Age Discrimination
- Contemplate the use of a functional resume, which states your experience in different functions rather than one sequential by date. Keep only relevant and current details on your resume. Remove dates from your qualifications and experience.
- Structure your resume in such a way that no experience beyond 15 years for a managerial role or 10 years for a technical role is listed. All other jobs can be clubbed under ‘other experience'.
- Keep your skill sets up to date and add on to ensure that you have the skills to compete and better competitors in the job market.
- Always be positive and enthusiastic when being interviewed for the role. Beat the misleading notion that older candidates are frail.
- Let neither your email nor voice mail reflect your age.
Options Open when faced with Age Discrimination
- Get your facts right. Collect all documents, files and papers which prove and confirm that there is age discrimination happening.
- Speak to people who are or were similarly discriminated against and find out what they did or what recourse they sought, etc.
- Confer with your personal support system, i.e. family and friends and get their opinion.
- Once it is confirmed that you are being wrongly discriminated against, seek a meeting with the individual who has committed the discriminating act.
- Present your concerns, reminding them of the law regarding age discrimination. Inform the person about your intention to take legal recourse, if the discrimination is not corrected. Give them an opportunity to respond, explain their act or clarify.
- Within 180 days of the act of discrimination occurring, the wronged party has to file a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The charge should be filed in the prescribed form and contain details such as contact details, the organization or group accused, details of the discrimination, witnesses, etc.
- If you are a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) beneficiary, then you need to file the charge with Office for Civil Rights (OCR) within 180 days of the said violation.
- You may hire a lawyer to represent you if the wrong is not remedied. Some discriminating acts are usually reversed when a legal notice is served on the accused.
An employer can adopt many practices to ensure that fair and equal opportunity exists in his organization, provide ongoing support to senior staff, and maintain a dialogue and good working practices. The law is always there to correct the wrongs meted out to you at the workplace. A satisfied employee is an involved and productive employee and a healthy environment helps the organization and employee work together towards a common goal.