Older workers in Houston and across the U.S. are facing age discrimination while looking for employment, according to a report by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Further, only 3 percent of those who experience such discrimination have made a formal complaint to a state or federal agency.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act was passed in 1967. It forbids employers from discriminating against workers 40 and older based on their age. However, employment experts say that age discrimination is more accepted in the workplace than other forms of discrimination. In fact, the practice is so prevalent that it’s an “open secret”, according to a senior adviser at the EEOC.

The EEOC report says that the most common age discrimination complaints involve discriminatory firings, harassment and terms and conditions of employment, such as mandatory retirement policies. In addition, employers have recently come under scrutiny for trying to hide age discrimination in code words when placing job ads or conducting job interviews. Examples of these code words include “digital native,” “energetic” and “go-getter”. According to the EEOC, employers can boost productivity and avoid discrimination claims by hiring a diverse, multi-generation employee base.

Workers who are faced with age-based job discrimination might wish to discuss their situation with an employment attorney. An attorney could explain a worker’s rights under the ADEA and detail the best way to document incidents of discrimination. If legal action is recommended, counsel could help gather evidence supporting the claim and file the complaint with the appropriate agency.

Source: HR Dive, “Despite tight labor market, older workers say age remains a barrier to jobs“, Valerie Bolden-Barrett, June 29, 2018