Cases of age discrimination in the workplace are nothing new. It just proves that an organization follows certain discriminatory policies against its older employees, i.e those who are above the age of forty, can face difficulties. Discrimination against the older employees, in most cases, is undertaken so that these employees who are paid higher, or who may be costing the company more in terms of pension and insurance, leave the organization.
This helps in cutting the costs of the company. Also, some organizations prefer a younger workforce, which is much more adaptable to new developments in business and technology, and hence is thought to be better performing than the older adults. Due to age discrimination, people above the age of forty may find it very difficult to get hired or promoted in an organization. Let us know a bit about the federal laws that have been formulated pertaining to this, followed by the steps that an organization should take to avoid such discrimination.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), 1967, protects the employees who are above the age of forty, from being treated differently than the other younger employees in an organization. Any kind of differential treatment meted out to these older employees during hiring, paying salaries, promotions, benefits, projects, training, layoffs and firing, is considered illegal, according to this federal law.
Another law which is The Older Workers Benefit Protection Act, 1990, forbids employers from not giving customary benefits to the older employees. Both these laws fall under the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and are applicable to private and public companies with twenty or more than twenty employees.
Ways to Avoid Discrimination in the Workplace
The managers of an organization should appraise its culture, including its hiring, training, payment and promotion policies, to ensure that there is no such discrimination henceforth. Below are some steps which an organization can take to avoid this discrimination in it.
- While hiring an individual, instead of his age, his skills and abilities should be considered.
- When deciding upon the salary of a new hire, age should not be a criterion.
- The job advertisements should be put in places where people from all ages can have access to them.
- The people who are in the interview panel should be aware of the laws.
- Training should be provided to all the employees, irrespective of their age.
- When forming teams for work, a manager should see to it that each team is a mix of old and younger employees.
- While deciding on incentives or promotions, skills and abilities should be the criteria, rather than age.
- The organization should clearly communicate its policy to all its employees by putting up notices on the bulletin boards or on the intranet. Workplace communication should be put forth in detail, complete with proper explanations on discrimination definition, its consequences, how to and whom to report about it, the process of addressing grievances, and the remedies for it.
As you can see from the above, age discrimination can be avoided with some simple methods, provided the organization has the will to do it. By undertaking effective training sessions to raise the employee's awareness of the discriminatory practices as well as the laws to protect oneself against it, an organization can do its bit to remove this malice in the business world.
Also, by encouraging their employees to always speak up against any form of discrimination that they might have encountered in the organization, and by ensuring that steps will be taken to avoid these things in future, an organization can help in this cause immensely.