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Does Age Discrimination Occur in the workplace?

Updated on November 13, 2015

I believe that ageism is becoming more common today. One thing that I have noticed is that discriminating or passing judgment about a person based on their age can definitely happen in the workplace. For example, if the manager of an automotive shop is 30 years old with very little experience and one of the technicians he supervises is 50 years old with years of experience, there can be tension between the two for sure. One important thing that people need to keep in mind is to avoid jumping to conclusions.

For example, while the manager may mean well, the manager should not automatically make assumptions about what the older technician can handle. It is not fair to the technician if the manager thinks he cannot handle a certain type of job assignment on a car, or even the ability to multitask and move quickly to do several jobs on several vehicles. Also, because the 50 year old likely has a wife or kids, the manager should not make assumptions about scheduling the tech’s work hours and what the availability of the technician is. It is not fair to the technician if the manager does not communicate with him and find out what his personal preferences are for family time or workload. In addition to making assumptions of work hours or work tasks on vehicles, the manager should not assume that the older technician does not or cannot do heavy lifting.

Another interesting thing that can happen in the work place is a basic notion that certain people may not be interested in promotion or additional duties or responsibilities based on age. For example, if the 30 year old manager automatically passes over the 50 year old technician when he selects a shop assistant or a lead technician because he feels the tech is “too old” or won’t want any more on his plate, that is wrong. It is also not correct for the manager to make a decision for the business based on the fact that he feels the older technician will not be part of the future. While there is not a scientific way to prove whether ageism is as common as sexism or racism, I do know that I have seen ageism happen, and unfortunately it often gets brushed over and unreported.


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