Discrimination in the workplace based on a person's characteristics can be difficult to prove. Most managers know better than to make derogatory comments that could be considered discriminatory or tell workers that any of those characteristics are the reason they lost out on a job or other opportunity. Age discrimination can be one of the most difficult types of discrimination to prove.
Unless a manager tells you that he or she wants to replace you with a younger worker or that you're too old for a job or promotion, how do you prove that you're the victim of age discrimination?
Before Filing a Complaint
Keep a record of instances where you believe you were treated unfairly because of your age. This can include statements by colleagues and managers. Note witnesses. Document instances where you were passed over for a project, promotion or another opportunity in favor of a younger person.
Make sure you're receiving feedback on your performance. If you're not getting it, ask for it. If your manager says you're doing a good job, that's all the more reason why you shouldn't be denied opportunities. If your manager starts giving you poor performance appraisals, particularly with no specific critiques, that could be a red flag. If you're given areas where you need to improve, check back regularly to make sure your boss is satisfied with that improvement.
One way to help combat age discrimination is to make sure that you're staying abreast of new technology and other developments in your field. This could include learning new computer applications or how to operate new machinery. Reading articles on what's happening in your profession can help you contribute fresh ideas.
If you believe you're a victim of age discrimination, talk with your boss or someone higher. Don't be confrontational, but come armed with specifics. If that doesn't improve the situation, you can file a grievance with your human resources department.
When Taking Action Within Your Company Isn't Enough
The next option, if an internal grievance doesn't work, is to go to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the fair employment practice agency in your state. There are deadlines for filing a complaint. For the EEOC, it's 300 days from the date the discriminatory action occurred. For some state agencies, it's 180 days.
Employment discrimination attorneys can provide advice at any point. They can be particularly helpful if you decide to file a complaint with a government agency.
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