When economists from the University of California at Irvine and Tulane University recently investigated the issue of age discrimination in employment, they found strong evidence of pervasive discrimination. For their study, they created 40,000 fictional job applications that included clues about the ages of the job seekers.
Age played a significant role in the rate of call backs from employers for interviews. For administrative positions, applicants between the ages of 49 and 51 experienced a call back rate for interviews 29 percent lower than applicants below that age range. For people over age 64, the response rate was 47 percent lower. Similar studies suggest that older women experience more hiring discrimination than older men.
The results from a survey sponsored by the American Association of Retired Persons supported the economists' conclusion about age discrimination. The survey showed that two-thirds of older workers already believe that age discrimination is a problem in the workplace. Although the practice of age discrimination appears to be commonplace, this form of discrimination has been illegal since the passage of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967.
A person who suspects that age discrimination prevented a job offer or was the reason for job termination could make a discrimination claim to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. An attorney could gather the evidence that points to discrimination and file the lawsuit. Gathering evidence could include requesting human resources records, interviewing co-workers and examining the contents of email exchanges. Compensation could cover lost wages, damage to one's career and punitive damages. An attorney could advocate for the person during negotiations for an out-of-court settlement or present information during a court trial.