The vast majority of us get to go to work, do our jobs quietly, and go about our lives. Unfortunately, some do not. They face challenges that are undue, including discrimination and even agism. Some of these situations even require the involvement of an employment lawyer.
While age-related discrimination is often not seen in the same challenging light that sexual and racial discrimination are, it is definitely a problem facing the Canadian work force. There are a few things that we should all know – not just older employees – about age discrimination in the workplace in Canada.
1. Intended Behaviours Regarding Older Workers
There have been studies that show that many employers have negative intentions when it comes to hiring older workers. There is just a general preference, provided all of the qualifications are equal, to hire someone younger.
Not only that, human-retarget managers are far less likely to ask older workers to take on training or to update their knowledge. On top of that, most employers have no intention of retaining older workers already on the payroll for longer periods of time.
What happens is that most older workers wind up internalizing all of these negative perceptions. They are more likely not to seek training that could keep them in their position and wind up planning to leave the organization far sooner than they may have otherwise.
2. Perceptions and Stereotypes About Older Workers in Canada
We generally only hear about negative stereotypes when they pop up. But there are actually some positive stereotypes when it comes to older workers in Canada. For starters, they are seen as more reliable, loyal, and sociable when compared to younger workers.
Still, the vast majority of stereotypes surrounding older workers are far more negative. They are generally seen as less productive, less competent, unable or unwilling to learn new things or accept new technologies, or even being physically limited.
The unfortunate aspect is that many of these prejudices don’t stop at the ownership level. It permeates down into the managerial level, even through human-retarget managers, and further on down the chain. When the perception gets deep enough, it can be extremely difficult to change that perception for an organization.
3. Discriminatory Practices Used by Organizations
The ways in which an organization discriminates against older employees or workers may not be so blatant as setting an age limit on hirings. There have been studies that have shown discriminatory practices in the recruitment and hiring process, further training, and even in the promotion and retention of older employees on the staff.
One of those practices, for instance, is employers using Internet advertisements. The general belief is that using these Internet advertisements will limit the number of potential old workers who will have access to certain job opportunities. The belief being that older workers don’t like to or don’t know how to use the Internet for their job search.
These are discriminatory practices no matter how you cut it. If you have found yourself in a position where you feel as though you have been discriminated against, employment lawyers may be able to assist. They will at least be able to tell you what your rights are and work to protect them in the face of discrimination.
Ageism happens all the time in Canada, both blatant and not so much. Being able to stand up against it can be a difficult thing, but it is not impossible.
4. Strategies Older Workers Can/Have Used to Combat Ageism
Though there are fewer studies out there showing older workers combatting age discrimination in the workplace and in hiring practices, that doesn’t mean that older workers have not found ways to combat the outstanding issue.
Some older job-seekers in particular have taken on a strategy in which they prevent employers from accurately guessing their age. One of the most common ways is to not put their graduation year or how many years since their graduation. They are small steps to prevent employers from actively discriminating based on age, albeit small steps.
The reality is much different, though. The majority of older workers have instead internalized ageism discrimination, be it in the workplace or while on the hunt for a job. This leads to older workers becoming more and more disengaged, being left out of the discussion for promotions, and even lowering job expectations.
Combatting workplace age discrimination is not an easy thing, especially with so many employers using practices that are hard to truly prove. While there are some steps that older workers can take to combat the issue, it is far from a solution.
If you feel like you have been terminated from a position or kept from a job opportunity due to ageism, you may want to work with an employment legal expert to get to the bottom of the problem.