Age discrimination continues to threaten older workers’ jobs

Forbes magazine has observed that older workers are still suffering in the aftermath of the Great Recession. Nearly four out of every five Americans over the age of 50 say that they are going to have to delay their retirement plans. However, an AARP survey of people aged 50 or older found that the majority of those surveyed had either experienced or witnessed age discrimination in the workplace. Together, these two factors are creating a crisis for baby boomers. While some baby boomers are vowing to stay at their jobs past the time they had originally intended to retire, the Huffington Post notes that this is to the dismay of employers that would “like to be rid” of older employees “and their higher salaries.”

The desire of some employers to have older workers ride quietly off into the sunset is often manifested by acts of age discrimination. Age bias in the workplace is prohibited under both the New Mexico Human Rights Act and the Federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Unfortunately, making age discrimination illegal has not stopped some businesses from resorting to unsavory means of trimming older employees from company payrolls. Specifically, some companies utilize harassment-often subtle-as a means of convincing older employees that it is time to leave. Other companies use layoffs or job eliminations in an attempt to mask the fact that they are disproportionately terminating the employment of older workers.

Some tips

The AOL Jobs website notes that there are some steps that you can take if you believe you have been targeted for age discrimination. First, write down the dates, location and witnesses of any age discrimination that you notice whether aimed at you or someone else in the company. Second, if you notice that older employees are the hardest hit by layoffs or disciplinary actions, gather any written evidence which has a tendency to substantiate age discrimination. Keep written evidence safe by storing it at home rather than in your office.

Third, if you think that coworkers or supervisors are singling you out for harassment due to your age, report it to the company’s human resources department giving it an opportunity to investigate and correct the situation. Fourth, take extra precautions at work if you think you are being targeted or harassed because of your age. Do not give your employer an excuse to terminate you. Accordingly, obey all direct orders since you do not want to be written up for insubordination. If you have been written up unjustly for a disciplinary action, submit a businesslike and factual rebuttal with any evidence showing that you did not do what you have been accused of. You should mention in your rebuttal that you believe you are being targeted due to your age.

Finally, if you are presented with a severance agreement or other document to sign after you have been laid off or terminated, do not sign the document without carefully reading it. Instead, tell your employer that you need time to sit down and review the document before signing it. The agreement could include a release of any claims that you might have against your employer including an action for age discrimination.

Seek legal help

If you believe that you were terminated from your job due to age discrimination, you should call a New Mexico attorney experienced in handling employment discrimination cases as soon as possible.