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Age discrimination considered to be an open secret

According to one survey, workers in California and throughout the country regularly face discrimination based on their age. The AARP study revealed that 61 percent of respondents over 45 years old had seen or experienced it themselves. Although the practice was made illegal by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, it can be difficult to prove that it happened in a given case.

The Supreme Court ruled in 2009 that age has to be the primary reason why a current, past, or prospective employee was subject to a termination, demotion, failure to hire, or similar action. Therefore, employers are generally free to engage in tactics such as requiring that a job applicant provide a birth year with his or her application. Employers may also get away with coded language suggesting that a workplace is fun or that an applicant is overqualified for a position.

This suggests that a job would be better suited for a younger person who is less expensive to hire. However, if a piece of legislation called Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act passes, the standard for proving age discrimination would be lowered. Under the proposed law, employees could use any evidence that is admissible in court to prove their claims. This was the standard that existed before the 2009 ruling.

Individuals who are demoted or terminated in favor of a younger worker may be victims of age discrimination. This may also occur if a qualified individual is not allowed to see a job posting or interview for a position. Those who feel as if they were discriminated against may want to consult with an attorney. Legal counsel may be able to determine if a client has a case and whether to attempt to settle or take it to court.

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