Overcome Age Discrimination with the 4 R’s

Overcome Age Discrimination with the 4 R’s
Overcome Age Discrimination with the 4 R’s

Not the words anyone wants to hear — but too many senior workers in America do. Age discrimination in the workplace is illegal in the United States, made so by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA). ADEA’s protections were designed to protect both employees and job applicants age 40 and older by making it unlawful to age-discriminate against a person with respect to ”any term, condition, or privilege of employment, including hiring, firing, promotion, layoff, compensation, benefits, job assignments, and training.”

But illegal or not, age discrimination (or ageism, as it is often known) is very hard to prove, and very much alive. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, age discrimination claims have risen fairly consistently over time, peaking in 2008 at more than 25,000. Last year, there were more than 20,000 new claims. 

Moreover, a recent survey of older adults, conducted by AARP, revealed that 64 percent of those surveyed say they have experienced or seen age discrimination in the workplace. And of those surveyed, 58 percent believe that it begins when employees turn 50.

You can find incremental proof of age discrimination everywhere.

Just ask anyone older than 50 who has looked for work in the past eight or so years.  Or ask an HR professional or job search coach. Almost everyone knows that ageism is real when it comes to the job market.  And some will even say so.

If you are seeking employment and are over age 50 (maybe even 40), then age discrimination is part of your jobs search, whether you’ve recognized it yet or not.  For someone trying to get hired, age discrimination is really hard to overcome.  It is just very, very hard to prove that a company didn’t interview you or make you an offer because of your age. And who would want to start out with a new company in an environment filled with contention and mistrust? 

So what’s to be done?  What if you are a seasoned executive who still wants to work, still has something to give? What if you are quite sure that you still have a valuable contribution to make, and all you want is a chance to prove it?  How are you going to handle this challenge?

Consider my 4 R’s as best practices to help you combat Age Discrimination.

  1. Recognize. Admit it. Age discrimination is real and, if you are 50+, it will affect your job search. Create your strategy and tactics accordingly.
  2. Read. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 20 percent of U.S. workers are now 55 or older, so this topic grows hotter and more meaningful (and therefore garners more coverage) by the day. Start reading now to find companies that distinguish themselves with their age-related hiring practices. Many business publications and websites (e.g., Forbes, AARP, Aol.com) frequently recognize and cover the best companies for older workers to pursue.
  3. Research. Dig deeply into the culture of companies that interest you, whether you have found them on a “best companies” list or not. Do they value experience and welcome the attributes that older workers can bring to the job? If they don’t, then don’t waste your time with them. Their deck is stacked against you. Move on.
  4. Reinvent yourself. If not now, when? Consider finally starting out on your own and doing what you’ve always dreamed of. Do you have interests or hobbies that could be grown into revenue-producing businesses? Can you bootstrap a business from the ground up? Have you explored market opportunities you might leverage with a franchise operation? Consider them all as possible options to help you overcome the challenges of ageism.

At FranNet, we are in the business of helping you determine whether franchising is a good fit for you and your family. Franchising is not right for everyone, but it may be right for you.  And it can completely eliminate age discrimination from your list of challenges.

Connect with me for more information and a discussion about how to use my 4 R’s to create your most effective defense against age discrimination.


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