If you have worked in your chosen industry for very long, you are likely proud of your achievements. You may also feel confident of your grasp of the business, and you believe your employer can trust you with responsibilities newer, younger hires cannot yet handle. Nevertheless, despite your experience and maturity, you are not receiving the kind of respect you deserve, and this may be confusing.
What you may be experiencing is a common method of age discrimination. If you are age 40 or older, you belong to a protected class, which means that federal law prohibits your employer from discriminating against you because of your age. Still, more and more older workers are noticing subtle signs that they are no longer a welcome part of the team.
Don’t miss the little things
Your employer may not come right out and fire you. However, you may start to feel less valuable as younger people with less experience take on leadership roles you feel you have earned. You may be the victim of age discrimination if, despite your quality work, good performance reviews and dependable presence, you experience any of the following:
- You have missed important meetings, conferences or learning opportunities because no one informed you of them.
- Your co-workers assume you are not capable of handling new technology.
- You no longer receive challenging or vital assignments, and instead, you are given meaningless tasks that do not utilize your talents.
- Your employer talks about restructuring to reach a more youthful customer.
- Your employer or co-workers make jokes or comments about your ability to produce, such as suggesting you look tired.
Some employers will use marginalization to discourage or demoralize older workers into quitting. This relieves the company from having to fire them or pay a severance. Another option is to keep you uniformed and out of the loop so your performance reviews slip, which they can use as a reason to let you go.
What should you do?
You can take steps to remain a relevant part of your workplace. This includes staying on top of the latest trends, not being afraid to learn new things and being willing to share your knowledge with others. Step up and volunteer for the tough assignments and don’t accept it when others say that getting older means slowing down.
Unfortunately, you may be fighting against the current. If your employer persists in marginalizing you, legal advisors recommend keeping a careful log of those events. Your notes may come in handy if you choose to pursue legal action for age discrimination.