Ageism in the tech workplace

Federal law, which covers all states including New Jersey, prohibits age discrimination in employment against individuals 40 or older. Though the Age Discrimination in Employment Act was created over 50 years ago, the AARP reported last year that age discrimination continues to be an acceptable bias in the workplace. This is especially true in the tech industry.

According to a recent report from Visier Insights Database, the average age for tech workers is about five years older than the average age for non-tech workers. This is true for both managers (42 vs. 47) and non-managerial employees (38 vs. 43). An assistant teaching professor of business communications states that tech firms often have a set idea of what older employees are capable of and what jobs they should be doing. This ageism bias often leads to discrimination in hiring, pay, and promotions.

According to a 2019 study by Hiscox regarding ageism in the workplace, nearly two-thirds of the respondents said they had not received any age discrimination training in the prior year. The scarcity of age discrimination training may signal that employers are likewise unaware of certain inherent biases they may hold about older workers. Providing training to employees about age discrimination is a good start to eliminating age discrimination from the workplace.

Employers should also provide training on new technology programs, which can be done through a mentorship program. Though more experienced employees are typically the ones to provide mentorship, younger, tech-savvy employees can also mentor older employees who are less familiar with new technology programs.

Even if older employees may be less familiar with newer forms of technology, they possess other skills that younger employees are less likely to have, such as communication skills. Regardless of someone’s skill set, employers who discount potential employees or employees because of their age are in violation of the law. Employees who feel they have been discriminated against may want to speak with a plaintiff-side employment attorney.

Know more about national origin discrimination

New Jersey employers are subject to anti-discrimination laws. Most are familiar with racial and gender discrimination provisions. However, many are unaware of the fact that an employer also cannot discriminate on the basis of national origin. If they do, they may be subject to legal action.

Discrimination protection in this area is broader than many employees think. The obvious things that are forbidden are disparate treatment in hiring and firing decisions. Moreover, pay and promotions are also covered by anti-discrimination provisions. The protection is even broader because it bars any type of discrimination based on the employee’s spouse. In other words, the employer cannot discriminate because the employee is married to someone of a certain origin. This discrimination is based on the employer’s mindset. For example, some employers have discriminated against Sikh workers because they thought they were Muslim. Even if the employer was mistaken, they may still be subject to a discrimination action.

These protections also extend to the working environment to which an employee is subjected to on the job. If there is an atmosphere of widespread joking and teasing that crosses a line, there could be grounds for a discrimination action. While not every joke is cause for a lawsuit, the environment can become unbearable for an employee by singling them out for cruel treatment.

Employees who are subject to discrimination in hiring, firing, or while on the job may have a legal action for discrimination. They should hire an employment law attorney to further explore what their legal rights are in this case. The attorney might be able to receive damages for the harm that they have suffered. It is difficult to deal with legal issues in the workplace without any help, and an attorney may assist with handling the situation.

Supreme Court rules in age discrimination case

Federal workers in New Jersey and around the country could find it easier to pursue age discrimination claims after a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling. On April 6, the justices voted 8-1 to lower the burden faced by federal employees who file lawsuits due to alleged breaches of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. The landmark legislation, which was signed into law in 1967 by President Johnson, protects workers who are 40 years of age or older against unfair treatment in the workplace based on their age.

Pharmacist files age discrimination lawsuit

The case the justices ruled on was filed by a Department Veterans Affairs pharmacist in 2014. The woman claimed that she was denied training opportunities, holiday pay and a promotion due, in part, to her age. The VA argued that the ADEA only applies in such cases if age is the only reason for adverse employment actions rather than one of several reasons. VA attorneys maintained that both the text of the law and previous court rulings supported their position.

Interpreting the law

The court’s opinion, which was delivered by Justice Samuel Alito, conceded that relief under the provisions of the ADEA has generally been denied when plaintiffs have been unable to establish age as the sole reason for workplace discrimination. However, the justices determined that the courts have misinterpreted the law. They ruled that federal employees must only prove that age was the reason for differential treatment and not the reason for an adverse action. The ruling does not apply to private-sector workers because Congress put different rules into place for federal employees when the ADEA was expanded to cover them in 1974.

Holding employers responsible for discrimination

If you have been treated unfairly at work and you think your age was the reason why, you may wish to consult with an attorney experienced in these matters. An attorney could assess the merits of your claim and how the law may help you. An attorney could also encourage your employer to settle the matter privately at the negotiating table to protect its reputation and avoid the costs of protracted litigation.

How older employers might combat age bias

Even though employers are supposed to prevent it, people who are age 40 and older may experience discrimination in New Jersey. Sometimes, this bias may not even be conscious, or the discrimination might be subtle. There are certain steps they can take that might reduce the likelihood of being devalued in the workplace because of age.

For example, making sure to dress professionally and getting a contemporary haircut can be important in making a good first impression. This should be bolstered by staying current with technology and innovations in the industry. Older workers should still try to attend conferences, talk with industry leaders and read about what is happening in their field. At the same time, they should not expect to be automatically respected by their coworkers based on their age and experience. Instead, they should try to work with and learn from younger colleagues. There is a stereotype that older workers cannot handle change, so they should make an effort to demonstrate that this is not true.

As workers get older, they may want to try to avoid getting back on the job market since they could face discrimination while job hunting. However, this might also be a good time to acquire fresh skills and move into a new career.

The Age Discrimination Act of 1967 protects individuals over 40 against age discrimination. People are protected against discrimination based on a number of other factors as well, including religion, race, disability and national origin. Workers who think they are dealing with discrimination at work might want to talk to an attorney about their rights. The first step may be to find out the employer’s policy about discrimination and what the steps are supposed to be. If going through workplace channels is not satisfactory, the employee might want to seek legal solutions.

SCOTUS ruling could help victims of age discrimination

While many older workers in New Jersey have been victims of age discrimination, it’s often difficult to prove this in a court of law. However, recent federal rulings indicate could make it easier to take action.

A pharmacist who worked for the Department of Veterans Affairs recently brought her case all the way to the Supreme Court after she sued for age discrimination. The court deliberated on whether the phrase “OK, boomer” was discriminatory and returned an 8-1 verdict in favor of the plaintiff. Justice Samuel Alito cited a 1967 ruling, which states that age should not be a factor when people interact within the workplace. However, the court also ruled that age discrimination must be the main factor as far as overturning a lower court’s decision concerning age discrimination is concerned, even if other issues come into play.

During the oral argument, Chief Justice John Roberts asked the pharmacist’s lawyer if using the phrase “OK, boomer” would be a prosecutable offense if a hiring team was trying to decide between two candidates. The plaintiff’s lawyer said it would be an offense if they made a hiring decision based on that assumption. The only justice who dissented was Clarence Thomas, who said that that the ruling would allow employees to say they faced age discrimination even if they received promotions and raises comparable to their peers.

Laws concerning discrimination in the workplace can be interpreted in many ways, as shown by this Supreme Court case. Employees who feel that they have faced prejudice on the job may benefit by speaking with experienced legal counsel. A knowledgeable attorney could help a worker determine if they can obtain legal remedies for discrimination or a toxic work environment.

Be aware of these three types of discrimination

New Jersey workers can face discrimination on the job for a number of reasons. While there is rightly much attention focused on the issue, there are several types of discrimination that tend to fly under the radar. Awareness is the key to doing something to solve the problem.

One form of discrimination is against those who provide care for another. The problem is compounded by the fact that the U.S. does not have a paid leave law. When people must miss work time to provide care, they often find that they miss out on pay raises and promotions. This form of discrimination extends to people who care for children as well as elderly relatives.

In addition, those who are pregnant face discrimination in the workforce. Some employers perceive pregnant women as less reliable and not prioritizing their work. This discrimination continues even after the woman has given birth.

Finally, rampant age discrimination does not draw the attention that it deserves. This begins after a worker turns 45, and two out of every three workers above that age claim that they have felt the effects of age discrimination. As Americans are forced to work longer to fund retirement, this form of discrimination will only grow to be more pervasive with more older people in the workforce.

Those who have experienced work discrimination do not have to simply endure it without taking action. In tandem with an employment law attorney, they may be able to file a discrimination complaint and lawsuit against the employer who has treated them in a discriminatory manner. The law offers protections to ensure that workers’ rights are respected and that they are treated the same as every other employee. An employment law attorney may advise their clients of those rights.

Signs your employer may be discriminating against your age

A long career, with its accrual of experience, makes older employees well-positioned for promotion opportunities. Despite this, some employers opt for younger employees. Sometimes their motivation is financial: they feel they can pay less experienced workers with lower wages. Though being passed over for a job opportunity because you’re ‘overqualified’ is sometimes a thinly veiled justification for age discrimination, it may not qualify as legal discrimination.

How the law prohibits age discrimination

The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) protects NJ employees from age discrimination by ) and the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA). Here are some of the ways to recognize age discrimination in the workplace:

  • Biased employment action: If an employer makes a decision (based on your age) regarding your employment status, which might include promotion denial, refusal to hire or job termination.
  • Adverse working conditions: These conditions could occur via negative evaluations without a reasonable premise, special considerations compared to other employees (such as more monitoring or surveillance), inappropriately negative comments, verbal threats, harassment.
  • Intimidation: These employer actions include anything that would prevent a reasonable person from pursuing their rights.

Understanding your rights

There are nuances to the age discrimination laws that could allow for a job termination because the company is losing money, but not because they will be required to pay retirement benefits soon or that the benefits for an older person are more costly. These intricacies can make discrimination claims tricky to navigate for an employee. Your years of hard work should be rewarded, not undermined by an unscrupulous employer. If you feel like an employer is using your age unfairly or discriminating against you, an attorney with experience in employment law can help you decide if you have a viable case.