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Age discrimination in the workplace: Know the signs, know your rights

On Behalf of | Feb 29, 2024 | Workplace Discrimination

Age discrimination in the workplace is a serious concern that affects numerous employees across the United States, including those in Rhode Island. It is important for employees to recognize the signs and understand the legal protections in place, particularly if they believe they may be facing unfair treatment due to their age.

Federal protections against age discrimination

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) is a federal law that aims to protect employees and job applicants who are 40 years of age or older from discrimination on the basis of age in hiring, promotion, discharge, compensation, or terms, conditions, and privileges of employment.

Key elements of the ADEA include:

  • Prohibiting mandatory retirement in most sectors
  • Restricting age-based preferences in job advertisements and recruitment
  • Requiring that benefits and retirement plans offer equal benefits to older employees

It is also important to note that the law does not allow employers to set arbitrary age limits. Limitations should be based on ability, not age.

Local protections that apply in cases of age discrimination

In addition to federal laws, Rhode Island has its own set of regulations that reinforce protections against age discrimination in the workplace. The Rhode Island Fair Employment Practices Act prohibits age discrimination and covers a broader range of employers than the ADEA. State law also aligns with federal guidelines to provide a cohesive framework for addressing age-related workplace discrimination.

Common examples of age discrimination, and tips to fight back

Employees can benefit from knowing examples of age discrimination. Here are some common scenarios that could potentially reflect age discrimination:

  • Exclusion from training and advancement opportunities;
  • Older employees not offered the same development opportunities as younger colleagues;
  • A pattern of promoting only younger employees despite older employees’ qualifications;
  • Disparities in layoffs and terminations;
  • Older employees disproportionately targeted during reductions in workforce; and
  • Management citing performance issues for older employees without proper documentation or justification.

Recognizing these patterns can help employees identify when their rights may be infringed upon.

Age discrimination is not only unethical — it’s illegal. Employees who suspect they are victims of such practices should document their experiences. Federal and Rhode Island state laws provide avenues for recourse and protection. Awareness and action are vital for maintaining a fair and respectful workplace where experience is valued, and age-related bias has no place.