Fighting Age Discrimination

You might presume your company is careful not to support or enforce discrimination. In fact, you might feel like your company’s zero-tolerance policy sends enough of a message. But there is one type of discrimination that many HR leaders and business owners forget to identify – ageism. Unfortunately, it’s a real phenomenon and continues to rear its ugly head in today’s workforce. Today, we’ll highlight how you can make improvements in your business to better spot and eradicate age discrimination. And an ethics hotline may just be the best answer.

Age Discrimination Comes in Many Forms

The law has language prohibiting discrimination of any kind across employment, assignment, promotions, layoffs, benefits, and training, based on a person’s age. Even the impropriety of age determinations or sharing can be construed as grounds for discrimination. That’s why your HR department is so keen on I9 sorting and eVerify, to avoid improperly securing employee birthdates. And it’s why you likely already have some policies in place that outline basic discrimination prohibition.

Age harassment also falls into prohibited territory. Simple teasing might not be an issue. But when it becomes frequent or begins to create an offensive workplace environment, it can be illegal. And not catching these instances of joking and jest before they turn adverse can lead to costly legal trouble.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, often referred to as the ADEA, protects any individual over the age of 40 from ageism in the workplace. Protections under the ADEA also extend to ads or job postings where age is mentioned or considered as a determining factor for employment. The EEOC encourages anyone to visit their site or call the hotline (800-669-4000) for more information on what to do if someone has been affected by age discrimination.

Recognizing Age Discrimination with an Ethics Hotline

Not all company leaders have a window into the day-to-day operations. And despite your best efforts to curb any form of ageism in the workplace, it could still be happening. One of the most effective ways to stay on top of any missteps in your organization is to incorporate an ethics hotline. Instead of affected parties calling the EEOC directly, they could be calling and reporting issues within the company first, allowing you and your management teams to make corrective decisions. Even inadvertent age discrimination is a concern and having an ethics hotline with proper companywide communication on how to identify ageism can be your best line of defense.

Start the New Year with a Layer of Age Discrimination Protection

Protect your employees and your bottom line by implementing an ethics hotline in the new year. Age discrimination is a real phenomenon. Having an anonymous method for reporting any instances of abuse, harassment, or retaliation will protect your team and ensure you’re compliant. It will also help prevent any unnecessary consequences, financial or employee turnover.

To make sure your business is taking all the necessary precautions to prevent age discrimination, consider implementing an ethics hotline. Contact Ethical Advocate to get yours set up today!


For more information on ageism, here is a resource created to bring to light the issue: