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Is workplace age discrimination real? Yes

A recent study finds a majority of older workers are laid off or pushed out of jobs at least once between age 50 and retirement.

What’s more, 90 percent of those forced out of work never made as much as they did before their job pitfalls.

The research

The research was conducted by ProPublica and the Urban Institute using data from between 1992 and 2016 collected in the Health and Retirement Study by the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research. The study uses employee surveys that detail the circumstances under which people left their jobs.

It has long been assumed that workers who enter their 50s having worked for the same employer for at least five years makes up the most stable workforce in the U.S. and the least likely to encounter employment problems.

But that wasn’t the case. The study found that between ages 50 and 65:

  • 56 percent experienced employer-driven job loss
  • 9 percent left a job for personal reasons
  • 19 percent retired voluntarily
  • 16 percent are still working

Of the 56 percent who experienced employer-driven job loss:

  • 28 percent lost their job due to layoffs
  • 15 percent left due to deteriorating conditions
  • 13 percent experienced unexpected retirement

What constitutes deteriorating conditions? Those occur when the employee’s treatment by the supervisor, pay, hours or work location or deteriorate to such a degree that they can no longer continue to work – indicating they were forced out of their position. Those who say they experienced unexpected retirement were forced from their jobs and elected to retire rather than put up with poor working conditions.

Education does not appear to offer a buffer: 58 percent of those with a high school degree faces forced layoffs, while 55 percent of those with a college degree or higher faced the same job losses.

The federal Age Discrimination Employment Act makes it illegal to treat older workers any differently than younger ones. People who feel they have fallen victim to discrimination can seek out legal advice.

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