Ageism: the forgotten form of discrimination

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Ageism: the forgotten form of discrimination

Ageism doesn’t get the head­lines that other –isms do, but it’s just as preva­lent in the work­place as any of the other forms of discrimination.

I’m actu­ally quite good at my job. But my new super­vi­sor has decided I’m not meet­ing his standards.

Dur­ing the past semes­ter, I earned stu­dent rat­ings of 4.7 out of five, which is about as good as a pro­fes­sor can get. But it’s appar­ently not good enough.

My new chair­man has taken away the office I had for the past decade and assigned me an infe­rior one. He doesn’t let me teach the courses I’d want to teach. He gets angry when I don’t vol­un­teer enough. He dis­misses almost any sug­ges­tion I make.

Despite hav­ing three knee surg­eries, I had to go through an exhaus­tive process to get a des­ig­na­tion as phys­i­cally dis­abled so I didn’t have to teach three-​hour-​long classes at night.

I was recently offered a buy­out — one that I refused to take because I actu­ally like what I do.

The mes­sage is clear, but it’s dif­fi­cult to fight legally. I joined the incred­i­bly left­ist teach­ers’ union because it got so bad.

Unfor­tu­nately, my expe­ri­ence is not uncom­mon. The Asso­ci­a­tion for the Advance­ment of Retired Per­sons has found that age dis­crim­i­na­tion is widespread.

Nearly two out of three work­ers ages 45 and older have seen or expe­ri­enced age dis­crim­i­na­tion on the job, accord­ing to the results of a wide-​ranging AARP work­place sur­vey. Among the 61 per­cent of respon­dents who reported age bias, 91 per­cent said they believe that such dis­crim­i­na­tion is common.

To learn more about what older work­ers think about work­place issues rang­ing from age dis­crim­i­na­tion to income to inter­ac­tions with cowork­ers, AARP sur­veyed 3,900 peo­ple over age 45 who either were employed or look­ing for work. The over­all results of the Value of Expe­ri­ence sur­vey show that while most older Amer­i­cans con­tinue to work for finan­cial rea­sons, they also want to be in roles in which they gain per­sonal ful­fill­ment and respect. Some sur­vey par­tic­i­pants believe that the preva­lence of age bias could affect both of those career goals.

For exam­ple, 16 per­cent of respon­dents believe they did not get a job they applied for, 12 per­cent said they had been passed over for a pro­mo­tion, and 7 per­cent said they had been laid off, fired, or forced out of a job — all because of age discrimination.

Among sur­vey par­tic­i­pants who thought it was some­what likely they could lose their job in the next year, 33 per­cent said they felt they were vul­ner­a­ble because of their age. And 76 per­cent of all respon­dents said age bias could mean it would take them longer than three months to find a new position.

For­tu­nately, it is dif­fi­cult to fire me. But oth­ers aren’t so lucky. It’s a seri­ous prob­lem that few want to acknowl­edge — let alone fix.

Ageism doesn’t get the headlines that other -isms do, but it’s just as prevalent in the workplace as any of the other forms of discrimination.

I’m actually quite good at my job. But my new supervisor has decided I’m not meeting  his standards.

During the past semester, I earned student ratings of 4.7 out of five, which is about as good as a professor can get. But it’s apparently not good enough.

My new chairman has taken away the office I had for the past decade and assigned me an inferior one. He doesn’t let me teach the courses I’d want to teach. He gets angry when I don’t volunteer enough. He dismisses almost any suggestion I make.

Despite having three knee surgeries, I had to go through an exhaustive process to get a designation as physically disabled so I didn’t have to teach three-hour-long classes at night.

I was recently offered a buyout—one that I refused to take because I actually like what I do.

The message is clear, but it’s difficult to fight legally. I joined the incredibly leftist teachers’ union because it got so bad.

Unfortunately, my experience is not uncommon. The Association for the Advancement of Retired Persons has found that age discrimination is widespread.

Nearly two out of three workers ages 45 and older have seen or experienced age discrimination on the job, according to the results of a wide-ranging AARP workplace survey. Among the 61 percent of respondents who reported age bias, 91 percent said they believe that such discrimination is common.

To learn more about what older workers think about workplace issues ranging from age discrimination to income to interactions with coworkers, AARP surveyed 3,900 people over age 45 who either were employed or looking for work. The overall results of the Value of Experience survey show that while most older Americans continue to work for financial reasons, they also want to be in roles in which they gain personal fulfillment and respect. Some survey participants believe that the prevalence of age bias could affect both of those career goals.

For example, 16 percent of respondents believe they did not get a job they applied for, 12 percent said they had been passed over for a promotion, and 7 percent said they had been laid off, fired, or forced out of a job — all because of age discrimination.

Among survey participants who thought it was somewhat likely they could lose their job in the next year, 33 percent said they felt they were vulnerable because of their age. And 76 percent of all respondents said age bias could mean it would take them longer than three months to find a new position.

Fortunately, it is difficult to fire me. But others aren’t so lucky. It’s a serious problem that few want to acknowledge—let alone fix.