Age discrimination has become an increasingly discussed topic for today’s American workforce. In the past, age was seen as a sign of knowledge. Respect was given to older workers over the new, green employees.

That’s not always the case in recent times. Many businesses are on tight budgets, and it’s understood that older employees tend to get higher wages. Many front-facing businesses want to look “young” and “hip” so that may mean hiring younger people to fill roles and encouraging the younger generation to participate in that field.

What to know about age discrimination

Age discrimination takes place when someone is hired, fired or otherwise discriminated at a place of work because they are 40 years of age or older. Federally, those under 40 are not protected, though some states do provide protections for younger individuals.

Age discrimination is harmful in a many ways. First, it means that older individuals are often limited in where they can work or what they do on the job. They may be fearful of applying for a higher position or making complaints because of a concern that they’ll be let go unfairly.

It can also breed harassment. If a company has a culture where talking about age isn’t stopped, then older individuals could be harassed by younger colleagues who give them nicknames like “old man” or “granny”, which is certainly not acceptable in a professional work environment.

Age, unless it plays a role in a specific part of the job, should not come into play when someone is hiring a new worker or looking into who to promote. While there are exceptions, such as casting a role for a child or young adult in a film, being older shouldn’t exclude anyone from the opportunity of being hired, promoted or treated fairly in their workplace.