3 signs of subtle age discrimination

You planned on retiring by now, but the economic crash at the end of the last decade took its toll. Now you're out looking for a job, and you're finding that the workplace can be tough for someone in one's 60s. You felt like it was hard when you'd just graduated, but there are issues you never expected to contend with that come along with being the older part of the workforce. Companies don't want to hire you because of your age.

A company likely won't come out and tell you that they're not hiring you because you're too old. That's discrimination and it's illegal. However, some subtle signs of age discrimination include:

1. Asking for recent graduates

The EEOC has said that putting out job ads asking for recent college grads is illegal, but it still happens. Technically, the ads don't say that no one over 30 should apply - people do graduate in their 40s and 50s. However, it's still very clear that they're looking for people in their early or mid 20s, who just graduated from college. They're still targeting a specific age group, without saying it.

2. Assuming you don't know about technology

Some companies target younger people because they want them to be up-to-date with smartphones and other types of tech. However, all of that can be learned. It's dangerous to assume that someone knows nothing about tech just because he or she isn't young. But companies still do this, fair or not. You could miss out on a job that you're completely qualified for simply because they can't imagine - no matter what your resume tells them - that you're able to do it.

3. Talking about "cultural" fits

Sometimes, employers will turn you down for a job and say you're not a good cultural fit for the office. In short, if the office is full of 20-somethings and the occasional "older" worker in his or her 30s, they're saying you're too old. They're just not saying it directly. While companies undoubtedly have their own corporate cultures, they can't discriminate based on age. This is just as problematic as saying someone isn't a good cultural fit based on his or her ethnicity - something an employer would never do.


In short, companies will often try to hide age discrimination by making it look like something else. They talk about company culture, needing recent grads or wanting tech-savvy individuals because those are all ways to say, "We want to hire young people" without breaking age discrimination laws by coming out and saying it.

However, age discrimination is still illegal, no matter how they dress it up. If you can't get back into the workforce when you desperately need to because of discrimination, you must know your legal rights.

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