Age discrimination is a problem that many people face every day, whether in the workplace, at school, at a professional conference, or even at home with family members. However, when people think of age discrimination, they usually think of the “over 40” situation- the all too common ideology that older people can not possibly do things as well as younger people. Of course, this is not true and with age comes much wisdom that often goes underappreciated. However, this article discusses the rising problem of age discrimination facing individuals younger than 40 years old.
Current laws in NJ protect individuals over age 40 from age-related discrimination, in particular the situations that occur in the workplace. For example, if an individual feels that he or she has been denied a position of employment due solely to their age, that individual can file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC. In most cases, individuals can fight for their right to work in the place that originally denied them employment and the employer must provide evidence unrelated to the candidate’s age as to why he or she was not chosen for the position. This process can take a while (several months in some cases), but if a company or employer is found guilty of age-related discrimination, there are sanctions that will occur. Sanctions can vary depending on the state in which one resides, but in general filing a complaint allows a job candidate a chance for an investigation to occur within the organization or company accused of discrimination, and an opportunity to obtain a Right To Sue Letter from the EEOC. The letter obtained can be used to press charges against the organization or company that has committed the age-related discriminatory acts.
Although the laws in place are effective in protecting most people from being discriminated against due to their age, the current laws do not protect individuals under age 40. Individuals under age 40 are sometimes viewed within society as being irresponsible, unknowledgeable, undeserving, unproductive, and just “not good enough” to hold positions within organizations in which the majority of workers are over 40 years of age. Just as the 40-something individual can be denied a job due to being “too old”, a 20 or 30-something individual can also be denied a job due to not being “old enough”. While there may be many individuals in their 20’s and 30’s that are irresponsible and unproductive at work and do not really deserve the job they have, there are also countless individuals in that same age group who are intelligent, highly productive, responsible, devoted, determined, and skilled at doing the job for which they have been hired. Therefore, discriminating against this particular group of young people is also unethical and therefore sanctions for companies that discriminate against them should be in place. In order to fix this situation, we need readers like you to write to your local congressmen as well as those in power in D.C. and ask that laws be put in place to protect young people from age-related discrimination. Together we can make a difference for ourselves and our children and grandchildren!