Work experience and education are often among the most important qualifications for jobs. Employers want to know that workers understand the industry and can competently perform the basic tasks required by the position.
Most workers who have more skills and experience than a job requires may consider themselves well-qualified. Whether you are applying for a new position with a company that you have no history with or a better position at your existing employer, you expect that your job experience and education will make you a stronger candidate, not count against you.
Unfortunately, workers over the age of 40 may sometimes realize when they get passed over for yet another promotion that their years of experience have actually held them back from advancement opportunities at their company.
Age discrimination is a big problem for those with career aspirations
Despite the value of experience and education, we live in a culture that glorifies youth with little regard to the long-term implications of ignoring the value of experience and wisdom. Companies are often eager to promote young newcomers quickly to show that the business offers advancement opportunities.
They think of these younger workers as being innovators or people who are tech-savvy, while they may view their older, more experienced workers as people who struggle to use technology or who are getting ready to retire. These dismissive and inaccurate assumptions about workers over the age of 40 can negatively affect their career opportunities.
People in management and human resources may pass them over repeatedly for advancement opportunities because they want to focus on younger candidates. Companies that prioritize youth over experience may commit age discrimination and leave themselves vulnerable to actions by older, skilled workers repeatedly passed over for promotions and other opportunities.
How do you prove age discrimination?
Hiring, firing and promotion decisions get made on a case-by-case basis, which might make you worry that you won’t be able to prove that your age was the deciding factor when the company passed you over for a better position.
However, when you can show that you meet all of the criteria for the position and that the company has repeatedly filled those higher positions with younger, less-experienced employees who may not meet their hiring criteria as well, you may have a case that could hold up in court.
Especially if there are multiple workers over the age of 40 at your company who have experienced the same mistreatment, there may be an issue with systemic age discrimination throughout the organization or within certain members of the management or human resources teams. Identifying age discrimination as something damaging your career is the first step toward fighting against it.