Age Discrimination In The Workplace?

by Dr. Arcelita Imasa

I am an older female employee working in food service. With so much talk these days about the age of our President and former President I am worried that I will experience age discrimination.  What does the law say about age discrimination and what are the signs?
– Reade

Dear Reader,

You have good reason to worry because age discrimination is real. Age discrimination is prohibited by law.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) protects most persons aged 40 years and older from discrimination based on age in hiring, promotion, discharge, pay, benefits, or terms, conditions, or privileges of employment.

The ADEA is enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Age discrimination involves treating an applicant or employee less favorably because of his, her, or their age.

The law also makes it illegal to retaliate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit.

Age discrimination is unfair and simply wrong. We all know that everyone ages differently. Some people may be physically or mentally unable to do certain kinds of work at 30 or 50 and others can work well on into their 80s. As they say, “Age is just a number.”

Some employers are hypocritical when it comes to age. When there is a shortage of workers, they are happy to hire older workers for many types of jobs.

Many studies show that older workers are often more reliable workers with a strong work ethic. However, some employers seek to replace older workers with younger ones, especially if they can pay newer workers less.

And they may ask their older, more experienced workers to train younger workers. But watch out, you may be training your replacement.

If you find that you are being asked to train younger workers and are then let go, you may have a strong case of discrimination. This is one of the signs of discrimination to watch for.

1. While forbidden, age discrimination can sometimes be hard to prove.  Here are some tips for how to fight back against Age Discrimination:

2. Talk with a supervisor. It doesn’t have to be a formal complaint right off. Sometimes the issues can be addressed in an informal conversation.

3. Keep a log. Document comments, and treatment. etc. Includes dates and other responses that are or seem discriminatory in your log.

4. Contact the Hawai’i Workers Center for information. You may need to get a lawyer. Reach out to us at phone number (503)967-5377 or (503)WORKERS).

5. Lodge a complaint with the company.6. Submit an inquiry to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ( Consider mediation or file a lawsuit.Remember, older does not mean useless!  Let the Hawai’i Worker Center help you learn about all your right and stick up for your rights.

Hawaii Workers Center also offers Know Your Workers’ Rights trainings. Contact to request training.Thank you,Hawaii Workers Center

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is a practicing family physician and the secretary of the Hawaii Workers Center’s Executive Committee of the Board. She grew up in the Philippines before migrating to Hawaii with her family more than a decade ago.

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