Age Discrimination in the Workplace

You don’t have to tell your employer your age in a job interview. In fact, age discrimination in the workplace is illegal. It’s unlawful for an employer to specify age preferences in a job ad unless the age is a “bona fide occupational qualification.”

In 1967, Congress thought that employers who set arbitrary age limits–instead of on skill set–were performing an injustice to persons over 40 years old. This was also cutting into the federal government’s tax revenue. So they made it illegal to do so with The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). It’s a win-win situation for you. You get to further your education and get a job no matter your age, without worrying about workplace discrimination. But some cases still fall through the cracks.

Obviously, if you’re sporting more gray hair than Ms. Clairol can handle, you’re headed up a creek in a tugboat. Many employers feel that older employees want more money than they can offer, because you have real bills to pay. Also, sometimes an employer wants to mold you to fit into their scheme of things. If you have more mileage than a young buck, they might think that an old habit–or way of doing things–will be harder to break. An employer wants to know that your skills are newly packed and up to date. Do computers come to mind?

In the end, an employer will hire you if you fit into their corporate culture because all the degrees in the world cannot fit a square peg into a circle. This is a good thing and works both ways. You wouldn’t want to work in an environment where you don’t get along with any of your co-workers. You have to spend a lot of time with their weirdness. Ask your neighbors if they love their jobs. Then ask them why.


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