University Coursework Example about Age Discrimination

The Ways to Prevent Age Discrimination in the Work Place

Society has become aware of the different types of discrimination at the workplace, such as racial, religious, and gender bias. However, little is known about age discrimination, which usually occurs in employment decision-making processes. Although the hiring process should be based on ethical, fair, and equal conditions, HR practitioners sometimes rely on the age indicators of the candidate. While young people receive refusals in the employment process for being costly, the representatives of the older generation are laid off as they might show less productivity and become the weak link of the corporate chain. In this paper, we are going to investigate the reasons for age discrimination, its state in the modern corporate world, how the issue has changed in the particular span of time, and what are the most effective ways to prevent age discrimination in the workplace.

The Chronology of Age Discrimination and Its Nature

Age discrimination (also known as ageism) first appeared in the 1950s. Some studies have revealed that it was the time when old employees, candidates, and applicants faced an age bias in the workplace (Zacher & Steinvik, 2015). Little changed in the next few decades where HR practitioners held an uncertain attitude concerning the capabilities of older people. It is not only company managers who consider older people as having ineffective drives, but also the employees who do not possess the willingness to accept them as a component of the staff.

Ageism is the negative form of discrimination where employees, hiring personnel, or other company representatives have doubts concerning the capabilities of the person within the particular age group. Usually, these aspects are based on the unproven concepts or false facts. For instance, a young applicant is less attentive to details, cannot be responsible, and too young to contribute to the company’s goals (Zacher & Steinvik, 2015). It was also found that both men and women suffer from age discrimination in the workplace and overcome a significant amount of age stereotyping.

Discrimination Against Millennials

Ageism among millennials is a topic of great concern but of inconsiderable studies. There is a tendency among employers that Generation Y (people who were born between 1980-2000) are focused on making more money (Gargouri & Guaman, 2017). They are determined to do a tedious and annoying job if it is highly paid, while if the job of their interest is poorly paid, they will not add to the company’s goals and mission. As a result, the company usually interviews the candidate on the things they value, what motivates them, and how they see themselves in five years. They investigate this information to be aware of the candidate’s plan for the future as being a part of the company’s team.

Moreover, in the United States, graduates sometimes have enormous student debt which may also influence the employment decision. The performance of such employees may be two-fold: they can work hard and be promoted, which is accompanied by salary elevation, or they can be lazy at the workplace while being paid for working hours (Kunze, Boehm & Bruch, 2011). However, this form of age discrimination may be harmful both for graduates, as they will not be able to pay off the loans, and for the government, as they will not obtain their debts back to the treasury. Moreover, after graduation, employers find it difficult to train millennials, thus they cannot adapt to the company’s peculiarities in operations, functioning, and performing.

National and Corporate Culture Behind Age Discrimination

It is known that each company, similar to the country, creates a unique culture with policies, regulations, rules, values, and goals to establish the brand name as well as the overall company reputation on the market. Society in the United States is convinced of the idea that when the person becomes older (40+), their physical and mental characteristics become weak (Barnett, 2005). For instance, they are less attentive, more vulnerable, and less adaptive to changes. Moreover, as the world of technologies develops, they might face dramatic challenges in using different devices and tools while performing tasks.

Another form of discrimination that evolves from ageism is gender stereotyping at the workplace. It is considered that men who are 40 or more years old have achieved a tremendous base of skills, experience, and wisdom, while women become tired and annoyed by the work they have been doing for all these years. Therefore, many corporations hire old men while women are temporarily benched. However, the practice of age and gender discrimination appears in the companies which are not socially responsible and are less concerned about reputation.

Retired men or women may also face challenges in the process of finding a job. After the conventional age of retirement, some individuals strive to work and earn a living because they have large families to support or they are ambitious enough to continue working (Barnett, 2005). The employer might evaluate the experience, skills, education, and achievements of the applicant beyond the conventional age; however, the final decision will not be favorable for the candidate. On the other hand, some companies allow the employment of retired people as they see more prospects in their performance rather than from millennials.

Laws Under the Issue of Age Discrimination

In order to prevent people from facing age discrimination at the workplace or in the employment process, the government of the United States has established section of Age Discrimination in the Federal Employment Act. According to the system of laws, the employer must not hire, fire, promote, compensate, or lay off the employees based on their age (Lahey, 2006). In 1967, the U.S. Department of Labor had reported significantly high rates of age discrimination at the workplace; therefore, the decision of establishing this section was made. Not only did they wanted to protect the rights and opportunities of free people, but also to prevent ageism from developing within the country, as it might affect the nation in general.

The main group of people who may sue their employer under the act is people of different occupations, over 50 years old, and of any gender, religion, and race. These people may not be directly informed about the reason why they were not hired, fired, or promoted. However, employers often force employees who are over 50 years old to retire, as they are no longer valuable to the company’s success.

It is impossible to talk about age discrimination without mentioning gender stereotyping, as these two issues are tightly connected. Men are more likely to be offered to retire when the particular age comes, while black men are even more discriminated in this particular matter (Lahey, 2006). However, black men in the United States are secured under the Civil Rights Act, which guarantees equal conditions of employment for black people as for whites. As a result, the percentage of hiring denials for black candidates is lower than for white men or women.

Job Satisfaction, Social Integration, and Psychological Disturbances As a Result of Age Discrimination

People spend 80% of their daytime in the office while others sway for part-time jobs or remote-based occupations; however, the work should be done appropriately no matter the location. Ageism may affect the overall satisfaction of the job even when the other person is dismissed from the position (Macdonald & Levy, 2016). People who work in one office for one employer strive to work in a healthy environment, with a positive corporate culture, and ethical behavior around them. However, the satisfaction and motivation may decrease when the employer uses unethical practices during the employment process, including age discrimination.

Another adverse effect of ageism at the workplace is the loss of identity. People who overcome age stereotyping tend to become more vulnerable and sensitive, and eventually, feel undervalued due to their age. While millennials may recover from this condition quickly, Generation X workers may struggle with depression, psychological disorders, and other age-related illnesses. Moreover, as they were discriminated based on age, the self-esteem decreases, which may cause a future lack of confidence and the absence of desire to build a successful career.

According to the report of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the rates of age discrimination has increased from 15,800 in 1997 to approximately 22,000 in 2013 (Macdonald & Levy, 2016). There are two reasons for such results: the first may include the growing population, and the other is that companies ignore the Act of Equal Employment. Another potential reason for the increase is the economic crisis, which forced many companies to conduct dismissals based on any premises except skills, experience, and excellence of performed work.

The Theory of the Cat’s Paw

When age discrimination exists within the company, the employer breaks the law concerning human rights and equality. The employment decision should be made with objectivity to give every applicant or employee a fair basis for work. A chain of ageism starts from one manager and continues to the lower levels of subordination (Gordon, 2017, p. 36). In general, when one manager has biased motives towards people in a specific age group, other managers will subconsciously follow his example. Such behavior is more known among HR practitioners as the cat’s paw theory.

Theorists had conducting experiments with animals, where the cat followed the adverse and violent behavior of monkeys. A similar study was done within the Army Reserve when some subordinates had severe criticisms about the supervisor’s orders, and most of the other army members followed them even though they had no claims on the matter.

HR practitioners have offered several recommendations which might prevent or solve the issues of age discrimination as well as define inappropriate behavior in the management of the team (Gordon, 2017, p. 37). The first step would include the involvements of a third party or independent person to give qualified assistance. This person should have either special education or experience of practicing legal cases on similar matters to guarantee that the solution will meet the law and the company’s policies.

The second recommendation is to document and report the evidence of age discrimination to provide the legal practitioners with the written testimony. The third recommendation includes the interview of all the parties which are involved or who witnessed ageism within the company. The interviewer should act as an agent in the first recommendation, with no interest in the case. By following the advice of the HR practitioners, the company might find the person or group of managers that used age as a basis for the decision.

Ways to Prevent Age Discrimination

Many companies are striving to obtain a logical chain of strategies which would help them to avoid ageism in the workplace. This section of the research will demonstrate how to prevent ageism, solve it, and encourage employees to motivate people from different age groups. These approaches to prevention will not work solely but should be supported with the company’s policies, regulations, and employee and manager efforts.

Equal promotions and compensation. The initial step in preventing ageism lies in equal promotions and raises. The company should develop the strategy and include it in the internal policy that each employee should be promoted or rewarded based on their achievements, contributions, or breakthroughs despite age (Root, n.d.). Moreover, all the employees and applicants should pass educational tests or training to elevate the qualification and enhance the quality of performance. For elderly workers, it is important to conduct tutorials on how to use a particular technology in the company. Not only is it essential for the worker, but also for the company as an employee will be able to perform work faster and better.

Fair performance evaluation. Usually, the company or department sets the goals with the final deadline. Each employee is given a particular scope for work, time, and requirements. When the project is released, despite the successful or unsuccessful outcome, the department gathers to evaluate the performance of each worker, including their mistakes or achievements. In this case, the supervisor or the head of the project should not support the failure of the employee depending on their age. Instead, a manager should investigate why an employee failed, what he or she lacks, and how to solve this (Root, n.d.). The same procedure should be done with each participant so that each member of the team sees equal conditions for evaluation and support.

Increase the motivation for older employees. Elderly people usually lose passion and energy to conduct their tasks with excellent quality and vivid pace. In order to encourage old people to do their work competently, it is not necessary to threaten them with dismissal or retirement. On the contrary, managers should assist them in any matter and give opportunities for the professional development despite their age (Tips on Managing an Aging Workforce, 2018). Old people are more experienced and skilled than young experts who might give the company more benefits and advantages.

Reduce pressure and stress. It is evident that employees are more productive and motivated in a healthy environment. Older employees are especially vulnerable and sensitive to changes, negativity, pressure, or even bullying around them (Tips on Managing an Aging Workforce, 2018). When there is no need to hasten the pace of work, then all employees should work at a moderate pace to provide high-quality tasks for the company. By reducing negativity and pressure at the workplace, the employer, managers, and personnel members will maintain positivity and productivity.

Modern Tendencies in Age Discrimination at the Workplace

In 2017, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) hit fifty years of existence. The essential hallmark of the act is to protect the citizens of the country from ageism and provide them equal conditions for work. The age group of people under the protection is 40-65, and the act has been functioning since 1967 (Miller, 2017). The organization of ADEA has the power to influence the local and state government, interrupt the company’s internal employment decisions, and control the affairs in employment agencies.

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunities Commission, an employee may sue the company if the employer discriminated against other members of the team on the age indicator. For example, in 2015, a former engineer from Lockheed Martin won $50.5 million in the case of age discrimination (Willis Towers Watson, 2017). A jury from New Jersey accepted the claim of an engineer which caused losses for Lockheed Martin, which dismissed him from the position because of age.

Why Age Discrimination Should Matter in Society

Any form of discrimination in society has a negative impact on people who become victims of stereotyping. The quality of life in the particular community depends on the well-being of people who live in it. When barriers appear, people might overcome stress, depression, and health problems which might be reflected in the society. The dominant influencer in issues of discrimination should be taken responsibly by the local government, social structures, and companies’ executives to eliminate the rates of discrimination.

Society tends to divide itself based on hallmarks such as race, gender, income, interests, or other aspects. However, it sometimes does not appreciate the existence of such groups which often cause acts of violence or injustice (What Is Age Discrimination, 2018). Age discrimination, despite its unawareness by the community, is a topic of a great concern which is rarely supported by the government of any country.

The community of elderly people contains 80% of the general society which experiences ageism at the workplace. People of 40-60 years old face age discrimination while looking for a job, or while working at a corporation. Sometimes, they receive dismissals due to their non-productive age or inabilities to provide effectiveness for the company due to their age. While older people sometimes cannot perform physical work because of health issues, the experience and the state of mind allows them to work effectively for the corporation even on retirement.

Unfortunately, society has not created international legal tools which would entirely erase age discrimination all over the world. While the United States is more concerned about gender, race, and religious bias in public sectors and at the workplace, little is done on the issues of ageism. Not only does age discrimination affect the people who are biased, but also the country in general, as Generation X constitute 75% of the overall workforce in the United States.


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