More than a half-century after the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) was passed to protect older workers here in the United States, it is discouraging to reveal that, rather than having been eradicated, age discrimination continues to be a barrier to older workers’ right to earn a living. In a single recent year, there were 20,857 age discrimination complaints filed with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Considering that far more incidents of age discrimination occur than are ever reported or investigated, that serves as a clarion call to older workers to be aware of age discrimination in the workplace.

Researchers, in an attempt to grasp the scope of the problem, sent out more than 40,000 résumés with applications for over 13,000 online job postings in a dozen U.S. cities. They sent three separate résumés purportedly from equally qualified young, middle-aged and senior applicants for each posting. The results showed that the senior candidates received fewer interview requests than the applicants in the other two groups.

One might believe that the relative anonymity of online job searches would level the playing field for older applicants. But that has not proven to be true. If anything, it appears that online applications may make it easier to discriminate against older applicants for jobs. Common tactics include:

  • Requiring a birthdate to be included or the application won’t submit
  • Using drop-down menus to list dates for work experience and/or graduation that only go back to the 1980s
  • Requesting a preference for applicants who are “digital natives,” i.e., those who grew up familiar with computers (a major deterrent for applicants 40 and older)

With all the additional barriers to gainful employment for those north of 40, it is easy to understand why many simply give up the fight to (re)join the workforce. But it is even more important for older applicants and workers who have experienced discriminatory hiring and work practices to understand that they have a right to fight back legally.

Make no mistake — age discrimination cases can be challenging to win. Finding an experienced and dedicated attorney to handle your case is often one of the biggest initial hurdles. Dayton residents with grit and determination can find an ally to help them prevail in court with their case of age discrimination.