Mismanagement And Age Discrimination

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about age discrimination: She openly discriminates against older workers

Our manager is young (early 30s) and has no college and very little supervisory experience. She openly discriminates against older workers, only offering training and promotions to workers under thirty. She has been made aware, in writing, of our desire to advance and has our credentials (resumes). The owner is inaccessible for the most part, but we’re looking for a positive way of approaching him and advising him of this and other matters. Suggestions?

Signed, Can’t Get Over Not Being Under 30

Dear┬áCan’t Get Over Not Being Under 30:

Suggestions? You have made a start by putting your concern in writing. Be sure to keep dated record of times when you have spoken with your supervisor about “openly” not being “offered training and promotions” as they were “to workers under thirty.” Please understand that our site focuses on workplace communication; it doesn’t provide legal advice; however, it is yet to be determined if the actions you briefly describe are unlawful. The size of your company matters.

A brief summary of the age discrimination law states: “The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) protects individuals who are 40 years of age or older from employment discrimination based on age. The ADEA’s protections apply to both employees and job applicants. Under the ADEA, it is unlawful to discriminate against a person because of his/her age with respect to any term, condition, or privilege of employment, including hiring, firing, promotion, layoff, compensation, benefits, job assignments, and training. The ADEA permits employers to favor older workers based on age even when doing so adversely affects a younger worker who is 40 or older. “It is also unlawful to retaliate against an individual for opposing employment practices that discriminate based on age or for filing an age discrimination charge, testifying, or participating in any way in an investigation, proceeding, or litigation under the ADEA. “The ADEA applies to employers with 20 or more employees, including state and local governments. It also applies to employment agencies and labor organizations, as well as to the federal government.” — http://www.eeoc.gov/facts/age.html Once you have a logged excluded opportunities and lack of consideration for the same career training and promotion as those of younger, you (and your older coworkers) are ready plan what comes next.

Possible options for action are:

1. Schedule a meeting with your supervisor and make your concerns a matter of record, both face-to-face and in writing. This would best be seen as a problem-solving rather than as adversarial. Should it result in ways to correct unfair treatment, your next step is to plan for follow up meetings with your supervisor to monitor how those “ways” were or weren’t effective. That is a direct approach and if such a meeting is only disappointing, you can look to other options.

2. An indirect approach would be for older workers to ignore what has gone by and to challenge your young supervisor to change her style to that of coach/team management.

3. Inform your supervisor (or bypass her) that you older workers are scheduling a meeting with the owner of your firm. That meeting might include positive proposals for correcting and preventing further discrimination. Also more importantly, it could include proposals for improved communication; ideas for collaborative decision-making, ways to cut wasted supplies, time, money and innovations that would enhance customer satisfaction, as well as improve employee morale. Such a meeting should also be approached as problem-solving rather than as complaining about your supervisor.

4. Meet with a labor attorney to assess if indeed there is age discrimination in your workplace.

5. Approach your state or regional EEO officer. Possibly these suggestions will generate other more creative ways to transform your unhappy work situation. For now it is important not to allow this to become a matter of frequent gossip and to see your young supervisor as an enemy. Imagine how delighted you would be if you could enable your young supervisor to see the special value of older workers. What if you could find ways to make her feel good about her job rather than to see you as critics? How might my signature advice apply to your situation: Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS? Do scan our Archives for more thoughts and click the name of Tina Lewis Rowe, my associate Workplace Doctor. It will bring up her site that provides savvy advice and inspiration that springs from her years of experience and training.

William Gorden