Too Old to Work Here (Age Discrimination is a Real Thing)


Too Old to Work Here  (Age Discrimination is a Real Thing)

Did you know (DYK) that there is a Federal Law against denying someone a job opportunity simply because they are too old? Yes, it’s called the Age Discrimination Act and it protects employees from unlawfully being denied benefits, jobs, opportunities and compensation from an employer solely based on age.

Here’s the entire law – it’s long!

So if there’s a law against it, why is happening so frequently? And what can you do about it?

Unfortunately, laws don’t seem to deter illegal behavior – just look at our overcrowded prison systems. But work is different, right? Wrong. People break rules in hopes of not getting caught. We also love to bend and manipulate the rules  without legally breaking them. If you can think of a law, there is someone thinking of a way to get around it. Employers do the same thing, this is why the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) is inundated with complaints and allegations of all kinds of discriminatory actions - and race is at the top.

Check this out from the EEOC’s website:

“The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today announced that it received 99,412 private sector workplace discrimination charges during fiscal year 2012, down slightly from the previous year. The year-end data also show that retaliation (37,836), race (33,512) and sex discrimination (30,356), which includes allegations of sexual harassment and pregnancy were, respectively, the most frequently filed charges.”

Keep in mind that does not include the cases that go directly to court or mediation. There was over $365 million dollars awarded in 2012 for discrimination cases. Why is it so rampant? Because even though that sounds like a lot, that many people who are discriminated against do not have the resources to pursue action. It also does not include those who are too afraid or intimidated to ask or help.  And finally, it’s hard to prove it. Most employees, when faced with discrimination, decide not to pursue action because it’s too long and it’s a tiring process. And Corporate America knows it; they have deep pockets and many more resources so they can drag it out and make totally unworthy from an economic standpoint.

It’s not right but it’s true and it happens.

Fighting Age Discrimination

The truth is if someone wants to discriminate against you based on age (or anything) there’s not much you can do about it. It happens; you just have to trust that a company which practices those kinds of tactics isn’t the kind of place you want to work anyway. Believe me; working with a jerk can be a life sentence so it’s better for you to move on.

Here’s how you can fight age discrimination in the job search – first, show a willingness to learn and grow. Employers are not afraid that you are too OLD; they are afraid that you are UNTEACHABLE and set in your ways. If you are a person of a certain age but you have recently gone back to school to learn a trade, get a certification or degree that shows that you are adaptable. I know a lot of folks who are in their mid to late 30’s and they don’t want to go back to school or learn about technology or social media. They are dinosaurs and what’s worst, they are stubborn dinosaurs. They are hoping that the job they have now they will have in 20 – 30 years from now, but it won’t happen and they will be surprised. If the recession has taught us one thing, it’s that nothing is guaranteed. And with the demand for what employers’ call “Top Talent” will cause mediocre talent to struggle.  You can stay away from being labeled as mediocre by becoming savvy and current as it relates to new technology and education.

Another tip to use against being pegged as old is not to brand yourself as an old person – so don’t say things like “I’m old school” or “I believe in doing things the old way” or “I don’t understand these kids today” and please don’t say “Get off my lawn!” (that’s a joke)

But seriously, pay attention to how you describe yourself in your cover letter, resume and in an interview because trust me the interviewer is listening. Be open minded – those “kids” that you don’t understand may just be your new boss and they love to use technology. They do not want you coming into their work environment and lecturing them on the good old days, or how dumb something is simply because you don’t get it.

It’s important to know that you “years of experience” that you rely on, means little. Sure experience is great – it’s one of life best teachers, HOWEVER, relying too much on your past experiences in this ever changing world could paint you as a relic whose time has come and GONE.  The world has changed, and it will continue to change and you must change with it.


Here are 4 ways to fight age discrimination in the job market.

  1. Be willing to learn new concepts – step out of your comfort zone
  2. Be willing to go back to school if your skills are outdated
  3. Don’t brand/label yourself as an older worker
  4. Be open minded to the new changing world of work

The first step to finding a new and better job is your resume. Join the Résumé Crusade and let’s get you all set. Contact me [email protected].