written by: R. Elizabeth C. Kitchen•edited by: Ginny Edwards•updated: 7/14/2010
Age discrimination is something we hear of often, but are you aware that there are different types?
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Age discrimination is an unfortunate component of our working society. When pertaining to the workplace, age discrimination is best defined as not giving a person a job or a promotion based solely on the person's age. The person's skills and level of competency will not be measured in the decision to hire or promote, just their age. There are several different types of age discrimination that all working people should be aware of.
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New Hire-Based Age Discrimination
When a person is not hired solely due to their age it is referred to as new hire-based age discrimination. People of all ages may have the qualifications and experience necessary to do the job in which a company is hiring for. However, some companies will want a candidate of a specific age. Some companies will only hire younger people because they feel they will stay longer and will be easier to train. Some companies will only hire older people because they feel their age automatically makes them more competent and reliable. Both are illegal, but often difficult to prove at the same time.
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Position-Based Age Discrimination
This type of age discrimination is when a person is denied a promotion due to their age. When a company announces that a new position is available, employees of all ages and experience levels will often apply. However, if the employer already has a set age in his or her mind, experience and qualifications will mean very little. This is a little easier to prove than new-hire based age discrimination because those who were not chosen will often know the employee who was and will know if they were truly more qualified.
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Salary-Based Age Discrimination
This type of age discrimination revolves around being paid less solely due to the person's age. Reasonably, a person who has more education and experience will make more money than someone with limited education and experience, but this isn't always the case when salary-based discrimination is involved. If an employee can find sufficient evidence showing that they are being paid less than a person with less education and experience and evidence to show this is based on age, they may have a case to fight this kind of age discrimination.
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False-Skill Based Age Discrimination
This type of age discrimination is also referred to as indirect discrimination. This type of discrimination occurs when an employer develops a strategy to categorize people of a certain age group that places them at a disadvantage when they are compared to another group of aspiring or current employees. A common example is an employer making up false skills in order to intentionally disqualify someone from getting a job or a promotion. The Federal Express Corporation committed this form of age discrimination. This company has a time-frame in which packages have to be delivered in order to keep things running efficiently, but there was a deadline. However, they did an assessment and created a time-frame that older employees would find particularly challenging, resulting in the younger employees speed being difficult to match. This is often hard to prove unless the employees who were targeted can find sufficient evidence to back up their suspicions.
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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. (2010). Age Discrimination. Retrieved on July 11, 2010 from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/age.cfm
United States Department of Labor. (2010). Age Discrimination. Retrieved on July 11, 2010 from the United States Department of Labor: http://www.dol.gov/dol/topic/discrimination/agedisc.htm