How to Deal With Ageism: 4 Types of Discrimination That Affect Older Workers


Ageism, the act of stereotyping and/or discriminating against others on the basis of their age, has recently become a highly discussed topic when it comes to workplace culture. However, the term “ageism” was first coined by Robert Neil Butler back in 1969 to describe discrimination against seniors.

Originally, identified as a pattern of discrimination that targeted older people, old age, and the aging process, it is now also used to describe the oppression of younger people by people that are older. Ageism can work both ways against the older and younger population.

Older adults are subjected to all sorts of negative stereotypes, particularly in the workplace. They are thought to be out of touch, bumbling, uneducated on technology, and over the hill. However, this type of thinking has many negative real-life consequences.

Types of Age Discrimination

Indirect Discrimination

This type of discrimination happens when an organization or individual employer has a particular policy that applies to everyone but puts people of a certain age at a disadvantage. Such a scenario would be withholding insurance benefits or overtime pay from people over age 65.

Direct Discrimination

This type of age discrimination happens when someone treats another person worse than others in a similar situation simply because of their age. For example, an older person is left out of a computer training course because the boss thinks they’re “too old” to learn new technology.


If you make a complaint of age discrimination or are supporting someone else who has been the victim of ageism in the workplace under the Equality Act and you are treated badly or retaliated against, this is victimization discrimination. 

Such an example would be if you are constantly pressured to retire because you’re “too old” by another employee and you report it to your manager, then shortly after you start to be treated poorly or excluded from opportunities.


Perhaps the most obvious form of age discrimination, harassment occurs when someone makes another person or persons feel offended, humiliated,or degraded. For example, embarrassing an older employee by commenting that they are slower than the younger employees. 

If you’ve experienced any form of ageism or age discrimination on your job, an employee rights lawyer in San Francisco can help you win your case. Discrimination of any form is harmful to workplace culture and should be addressed properly.

How to Deal With Ageism in the Workplace

Employers are required by law to provide a workplace free from discrimination to all employees. Companies should provide discrimination and diversity training. They should also put anti-discrimination policies in place and enforce them.

Companies can also choose to implement performance-based award systems, rather than rewarding based on tenure. Each employee should be offered the same training and education opportunities, regardless of experience level, age, race, sex, or gender. 

Hiring employees or implementing layoffs should not be based on age, either. Companies should not ask for “young” or “college-aged” employees during the hiring process, and they shouldn’t approach layoffs based on age, pay-rate, or seniority.  

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