Different Types of Workplace Ageism | Barrett & Farahany

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What are the Different Types of Ageism?

What are the Different Types of Ageism?


Age discrimination remains a major issue in the American workplace. This is especially true when politicians are discussing raising the retirement age for Social Security. People need to be able to work past their physical prime with respect and dignity. Some jobs require physicality, but most popular jobs are office-based or non-labor positions, where physicality is less important.

If physical ability is not necessary for your job, age should not be considered in the workplace. In many businesses, treating someone differently because of their age is considered workplace discrimination. Age is a protected characteristic.

If you have experienced workplace ageism, the age discrimination attorneys at Barrett & Farahany can help. To help you identify what’s happening to you at work, we will explain the different types of workplace ageism.

What You Need to Know About Workplace Ageism

Ageism is simply the prejudice or discrimination of another person based on their age. Currently, age discrimination can be described as ageism against people 40 years or older in the United States. However, harassing employees under the age of 40 is prohibited because harassment is illegal, not because it is age discrimination.

This distinction is important because workplaces commonly choose employees under 40 years old over their older counterparts for the majority of positions. Executives and managerial positions are some of the few employment denominations where the majority of people are over 40 years of age.

5 Types of Workplace Ageism

We categorize workplace ageism into types based on how another person’s prejudice manifests. For example, is ageism part of the workplace’s operations or company culture?

Ageism has many forms, and we’ll break them down so you can spot abuse and avoid becoming a victim. Here are the different types of workplace ageism:

  1. Direct Age Discrimination: This is when someone is treated less favorably in the hiring or promotional process because they are deemed to be ‘too old’ for the position. Discrimination of this kind can be emblematic of the workplace culture and the attitudes of the employees in charge, or of the workplace’s discriminatory policies.
  2. Indirect Age Discrimination: This is when a company’s policy, practice, or procedure appears to be neutral but creates inequalities between younger and older employees.
  3. Harassment: Any unwanted physical, verbal, or emotional conduct related to a person’s age being over 40 is considered harassment. These moments can be identified as offensive, hostile, degrading, humiliating, or intimidating, creating a hostile environment for the victim. Harassment can come from supervisors, coworkers, or even non-employees and might include offensive jokes, remarks, or visuals related to age.
  4. Victimization: This type of discrimination arises when someone is treated badly because they have made or supported a complaint about age discrimination. It can also involve treating someone unfavorably because they are suspected of doing so.
  5. Institutional Ageism: This is similar to indirect age discrimination in terms of form but is more like direct age discrimination in that it is purposeful. An example would be a policy, practice, or workplace culture that is intended to cause age discrimination.

These types of ageism highlight the need for awareness, education, and policy changes within organizations to ensure a fair and inclusive work environment for all age groups.

The 3 Levels of Ageism

First, we talked about types, but now we should talk about levels. The levels relate to how much of the business is affected by ageism. An example of ageism can be one type but work across multiple levels, or vice versa.

Understanding the different levels of ageism helps you understand what pieces of evidence to collect, and understand how our legal team can build your case. The three levels include:

  • Micro-level ageism: This is about your co-workers and managers. They are the ones who are ageist and are not treating you accordingly. Your employer does not empower them, at least not intentionally or in a significant way.
  • Meso-level ageism: Many industries value social networking. If ageism exists between employees of multiple businesses or across multiple locations of a brand, it would be Meso-level ageism.
  • Macro-level ageism: When ageism is common and blatant throughout a business and potentially an industry, it is considered institutional and/or cultural. The business, along with other businesses as well, needs to be thoroughly investigated.

How Can the Attorneys at Barrett & Farahany Help?

The age discrimination attorneys at Barrett & Farahany have extensive experience representing clients who have been the victims of workplace ageism. More often than not, your age does not affect your ability to work, and it should not affect how you are treated.

If you are being passed up for jobs and promotions you are more than qualified for because of your age, you deserve justice. If you are being harassed at work because you are older than your co-workers, you deserve compensation. And if your employer has put unfair restrictions or rules on employees that affect you more than others because of your age, you deserve help.

Contact our attorneys today to schedule a consultation.


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