Over The Hill At 40 – Age Discrimination In The Workplace

Every large corporation has some type of annual “Diversity Training” course where we learn not to harass colleagues, send out crude jokes over e-mail, and discriminate against those unlike ourselves.  Everything generally makes sense except for one rule that I once read: “One shall not discriminate against someone over 40.”  I thought about this for a second, and I began to wonder if they had made a typo.

At age 40, one will have worked for 18 years out of college or 15 years out of graduate school on average.  If the accepted age of retirement is 65, or 25 years away from 40, then the rule is implying that age discrimination starts before you are even half way through your average 40 year long career!

The other interesting fact is that most people are living longer nowadays.  Forties are the new thirties as they say.  People are looking younger and younger at various age milestones.  Hence the question, why 40?  Let’s explore the various reasons.

NEGATIVE PERCEPTIONS ABOUT OLDER WORKERS

Older workers are…….

1) Slower and less adaptable to change.  In the age of the internet, if you don’t know how to write html code, or work your way around a Powerpoint or Excel spreadsheet, you might as well be a dinosaur.

2) Less loyal to the job due to family.  Families result in more vacation time and sick days, and less desire to work weekends and put in the extra effort.

3) Less malleable for a mentor to mold.  Instilling work culture is more difficult, and therefore older workers will have a harder time fitting in.

4) More expensive and therefore squeezes margins more intensely during downturns.  Due to the lack of flexibility in pay, there is less maneuverability.

5)  Uncomfortable working for someone younger than them.  Younger managers feel their discomfort and therefore naturally tend to shy away.

POSITIVE PERCEPTIONS ABOUT OLDER WORKERS

Older workers are….

1) More knowledgeable and experienced where no amount of smarts can match.

2) More patient and mature.  They bring different insights to solve difficult problems.

3) More dedicated to their jobs because they are not just providing for themselves, but for their own family and perhaps even their parents.

4) Have more savings and therefore are more flexible to take pay cuts during downturns.

5) Work well with younger co-workers because there is a natural tendency for older people to help mentor younger workers even if they are more senior.

AGE IS JUST AN EXCUSE

If you let yourself feel discriminated against due to age, it’s your fault for letting it get to you.  We start blaming exogenous variables that should have very little to do with whether we succeed or fail.  Yes, if you are working at a company where the average age is 30 and you’re 50, maybe you will feel the young guns are out to get you.  Or rather, since you’re the minority, you’ll feel special due to your valuable insights.  It’s really what you make of the situation.

You can argue either way whether older workers are better or worse employees.  It doesn’t really matter because you’ll never convince the world conclusively that you are right.  One can always find the positives and negatives in any type of person because our perceptions are all different.  We just need to focus on what we can control, which is our attitude, presentation, and work skills.

CONCLUSION

Perhaps the reason why so many of us, including Lyndon and I would like to have the option of retiring by our early 40s is because we unconsciously don’t want to face age discrimination.  We’re given subtle, hard-to-notice messages telling us that we have at most 20 years in our careers to be someone before others start taking our place.

We all have latent biases that cannot be clearly proven.  Rather than dwell on exogenous variables which cannot be helped, let’s work on making ourselves invaluable so that even when we’re 80, we’ll be able to make a difference if we want to.

Readers, are you convinced age discrimination in the workplace starts at 40?

At what age do you think age discrimination starts?

What about reverse age discrimination against younger employees?

What pros and cons am I missing about older workers?

Regards,

Sam @ Financial Samurai – “Slicing Through Money’s Mysteries”


Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 during the depths of the financial crisis as a way to make sense of chaos. After 13 years working on Wall Street, Sam decided to retire in 2012 to utilize everything he learned in business school to focus on online entrepreneurship.

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Comments

  1. Powell says

    Age discrimination definitely exists in the workplace, but it’s very hard to prove. Surely some older workers use age discrimination as a reason as to why they didn’t get the job, or why they didn’t get promoted.

    The fact is, there are many older workers who do progress forward, and when people start using age, sex, race as an excuse, they have already failed.

    P

      • says

        Totally agree, it goes both ways. A “complication” in todays world is that perhaps because of technology, the young are almost equally likely to be running a company or department, and that can marginalize older workers.

        Some of it is deserved because an older worker may think he knows better than the younger manager on general principal. The older worker may know more about some things, but probably not about running a profitable operation in the business–big picture at least.
        .-= Kevin@OutOfYourRut´s last blog ..Advantages of Business Credit Cards =-.

    • says

      It doesn’t mean you are a discriminator, it just means you don’t want to hire anybody who is set in their ways. The people set in their ways just so happen to be over 40 in your experience!
      .-= admin´s last blog ..The Ripples OF Giving =-.

    • Alesandra says

      If people over 40 “disappoint” you, you obviously suck at hiring. Kinda hilarious you posted your company and basically state, “I don’t hire anyone over 40.” Yes, you are a discriminator because you said “I tried many times to hire people over 40 but….” You need a college degree to work at my company. I don’t care about age. I tell candidates up front they will be required to do this and that. Then, I interview based on that. I will say a lot of people I’ve hired under 30 are not as reliable as over 30. The people in their 40s and 50s rarely miss work that work here (I actually have to send them home for being sick!). I’ve personally only let go one person over 40 due to missing work. The rest were under 30. I believe all can learn something from each other. My personal pet peeve are the women who come in dressed, shall we say too provocative, and find out a woman is interviewing them. I see the “oh, no” look. And, I’ve fired all but one under 40 for sexual harassment claims too. I’m 35 by the way.

    • John I. says

      Short answer is yes, you are discriminating. To assume that someone is set in their ways because of age is judgmental.

      Do you seriously think anyone in the current workforce who is unemployed and over 40 would not “change their ways” for a job. If so, you have got to be as clueless as the ditz in Clueless.

      Are all blonde’s ditzy? All mexicans lazy? All jews cheap? No? Then why would you assume all people over 40 are set in their ways. I surely hope that someone is smart enough to report your hiring practices to the appropriate authority. Sounds to me like you guys should get your lawyers ready.

    • Lana says

      May be you just need to consider to give a chance to people of different culture. From my own experience I worked with american born people at any age and all I know they like to take brakes more then they supposed to take, they always complain how they tired and they barely do anything. As immigrant from another country we used to work hard and when I say hard I mean REALLY HARD. That’s why when I started to work in the US many managers had their jaw dropped for the amount of job I have done on my shift. American people are very spoiled and don’t appreciate what they have but people from other countries will sleep and dream how thank you for giving them a chance.

  2. says

    Negative Perception:

    Maybe older workers are just holding on to their jobs for the benefits (insurance, pension, etc) and waiting for retirement and social security?

    Positive Perception:

    Since they’ve lived more of life than a younger person, they should have a better idea of their skills and competencies, and thus know how they can make an impact and contribute to an organization.

    Regardless, I wholeheartedly agree that we should work on ourselves and improve are skills at all times so we can prove to people that we can make a difference no matter what our age is.
    .-= Darren´s last blog ..Work Less, Live More By Bob Clyatt | Book Review =-.

  3. says

    I haven’t really worked in a corporate environment, but older teachers are kind of revered . . .if they are good. But when they’re old, grouchy and crusty and refuse to learn new tricks, they are hated. (by coworkers and students alike). The problem is, old teachers are nearly impossible to fire.

    Was that just an age-ist comment? I don’t know.
    .-= Simple in France´s last blog ..Do you wish you spoke any other languages? =-.

  4. says

    Are you convinced age discrimination in the workplace starts at 40?

    –> If the company has a poor philosophy of employees, then absolutely. The notion that someone whose age is greater or equal to 40 means they are less capable is broken.

    At what age do you think age discrimination starts?

    –> I think an older age, perhaps 50 and up is a more likely discrimination. There’s a mentality that ‘old fogies’ can’t get it done as well I think. Still, this is a broken philosophy.

    What about reverse age discrimination against younger employees?

    –> Really young employees probably get treated as not having the experience and are often passed by for promotions, advancement. That seems like something that could happen. I actually somewhat agree with this approach. But there are some young people who are more than capable of leading and managing.

    What pros and cons am I missing about older workers?

    –> Older workers might suck up more money and increase insurance premiums. They may take more sick days. I think you hit most of the pros though.
    .-= Jeremy Johnson´s last blog ..Approach Motivation and Avoidance Motivation =-.

    • kaye says

      Regarding the comment about sick days: you may want to check that one out. I took far more sick days when I was young than when I got older and that is the case for most people I know. Younger people party til 2:00 and are get colds more frequently (older workers have built up an immunity). People who were working in the 1980s and remember the “Lunch is for Wimps” slogan have a work ethic that I see only rarely in the young, who put heavier weight on work/life balance. Add to that the fear that older workers have of being discriminated against for taking sick time and I would be surprised if they took more sick time than younger workers.

  5. says

    Discrimination definitely exists. Sometimes for a good reason!

    When I had a start-up a few years ago, the difference between the young people and the older employees was clear.

    The young have almost boundless energy, and they cost a lot less. They’re also much more willing to do new stuff. On the other hand they can be an unknown quantity, sometimes aren’t as good, and often see any job as a stepping stone.

    Older employees are invariably more expensive if they’re any good by the time they get to you. They’re also virtually impossible to change. On the other hand you know what you’re getting, and they’re totally potty-trained.

    Ideally you’d be able to mix different employees into different roles, but some companies are too small for that.

    As you allude Sam, the whole problem will disappear soon because we’re getting older — add in the financial downturn and there’s a vanguard of older workers who are going to make it more acceptable to work in your older age if you want to.

    Here in Europe and in Japan, companies will actually *need* older workers due to demographics, though in the US your birth rate is going to keep lots of young ‘uns about:
    http://stocktickle.com/2010/04/13/us-demographics-versus-chinas-demographics/
    .-= Monevator´s last blog ..Video: John Maynard Keynes versus Friedrich von Hayek =-.

    • says

      I actually believe there’s NEVER a good reason for discrimination. If you aren’t the best candidate, then so sorry. But if you are the best candidate, and there’s something about your age, race, whatever one doesn’t like, that’s a problem.

      Good to know some parts of Europe and Japan need older workers! Chinese demographics have some big problems 10 years down the road due to their 1 child policy.
      .-= admin´s last blog ..The Benefits of Debit Cards Over Cash and Credit Cards =-.

      • says

        Yeah, I guess it’s not discrimination so much as ‘quick shorthand for a certain type of person’, The trouble is people tend to believe they’re not who they are. We all do it.

        There must come a time when age is a legitimate factor though, surely Sam?

        What if you were employing someone you had to train up for a year who was 60 years old?

        Sheer maths says you’re unlikely to recoup your investment – although I guess the same could be said for a 22-year old who does a runner after a couple of years.
        .-= Monevator´s last blog ..Video: John Maynard Keynes versus Friedrich von Hayek =-.

        • says

          I never expect more than 4 or 5 years out of an employee. To expect one can get a decades worth of services in this day an age is naive. If someone can give me a good 5 years of service, I’ll be ecstatic! We are generation ADD, and I want it now!

  6. says

    First, I have a hard time identifying the difference between the 30 and 40 year old crowd…

    Secondly, it really depends on the person. Remember good ole Ben Franklin didn’t become a great inventor until he retired at a ripe old age of 42? After 42, good ole Ben contributed great things to society with his inventions. So I think that the 40 crowd still has some life left in those old bones..

    I think if you take care of yourself, and challenge yourself mentally, you will still be a valuable asset to almost any company.

    For instance, my Dad is approaching 60, and I would hire him in a heartbeat. Not because he is my Dad, but because I know of his creativity and work ethic! Hehe, I bet he could still give me a great match in tennis if I challenged him…

    Sorry for the long comment, what I really mean to say is… It depends on the individual! If the person was great at 25, they will be great at 40, 45, 50, 55, 60 …

    Hmmm, I wonder, what is the average age of the fortune 500 CEOs…
    .-= Money Reasons´s last blog ..Are You Tracking Your Cash Flow? You’d Better Be! =-.

      • Norman says

        I had a client who was a MD in his 80s and still going strong. I asked him how he stayed so sharp while others his age were in decline. He said “They never were sharp!”

        • says

          I think being in charge of a company and being old is a pretty great way to end your life, , provided you love where you’re working.

          You just see so many happy very old CEOs and MDs (Trump, Buffett, etc etc). It can’t be a coincidence.

          If I end up with a lot more money than I need at 65, I’m going to start a sexy media company somewhere full of creative young people, and try to make something modest and amazging just for the fun of seeing people shine.
          .-= Monevator´s last blog ..Video: John Maynard Keynes versus Friedrich von Hayek =-.

          • says

            Sexy media company? You should come to San Francisco! There are a lot of sexy media companies here! Furthermore, it’s pretty good for a single guy too, so I think you’ll be in heaven if you’re here. Just don’t forget to keep supporting our economy by using Google, Facebook, Apple, Twitter, and Youtube in the process. We need as much tax revenue as possible!

  7. says

    I think that age discrimination is real in many (but not all) environments, and it does tend to hit around age 40.

    Usually by 40 a worker is at peak earnings, making him more “expensive”, and there are family issues to contend with. I worked for many years in an industry where the majority of people were childless–young adults, empty nesters or people who never had kids. Some companies and industries require total loyalty, and kids get in the way of that.

    We also can’t ignore the youth cutlure mentality that’s prevalent in our culture. Some businesses–even ones you wouldn’t think of–prefer to keep a young looking staff. Maybe it makes the company look more vibrant and cutting edge. Sometimes the boss is having a midlife crisis and prefers to surround him(or her)self with young people, somehow believing himself to be one of them. A young boss may have very real problems with people over 40, viewing them as less capable because he’s in the superior position. These are all possibilities.

    There can be a certain amount of engaging in “blaming exogenous variables”, but that doesn’t mean it’s an illegitimate thought. Heck, why is there such a complusion to retire at 65 or earlier? Isn’t at least part of that because of fear that no one will hire us? At what point do we cross the age line? Maybe it isn’t 40, but that’s the real question.
    .-= Kevin@OutOfYourRut´s last blog ..Advantages of Business Credit Cards =-.

  8. says

    I haven’t worked in corporate for a while now, so maybe I’m out of touch. However, 40 seems a wee bit young, doesn’t it? I could be feeling this way because I’m a couple years shy of this milestone (woo hoo is what I say!). Yet, when I was the youn’en and the “older” workers seemed “old”, they were usually pushing late 50’s early 60’s, not 40. Most of the executives were in their early 40’s and seemed knowledgeable, yet youthful.

    Based on the comments I’m reading, you’re all just a bunch of young whipper-snappers!
    .-= Little House´s last blog ..Bike Challenge =-.

  9. Charlie says

    I think a mix of ages is healthy in the workplace. There are tons of 22-26 year olds at my office and only few people in their 30s and almost none in their 40s and 50s. It makes for a hip environment but it’s really unbalanced in terms of mentors and generations.

  10. says

    I don’t intend to ever work for a company again and luckily the ones I have worked in, I have never noticed age discrimination happening…. Well actually I got a lot of stick when I was only 17 at my first company, but that’s different :).

    I think in the corporate world a lot of discrimination’s are almost like habits now, you are expected to behave in a certain way to fit in and beating up on the old guys may be part of that.
    .-= Forest´s last blog ..A Helping Hand For Fellow Yakezie Members =-.

  11. says

    The company I work for has two types of people. People over 50 and people under 35. There are VERY few in between 35 and 50. I don’t see much discrmination here except to make fun of each other.

    Every person that works for me is old enough to be my parent. They don’t seem to mind working for a kid (34), and I don’t mind having them work for me. I’ve supervised older and younger people throughout my career. I believe the younger ones are great because they are moldable. I believe the older ones are great because other their knowledge. We can all learn from one another no matter what our ages are.

    We each have our advantages and disadvantages; age, sex, race, hair color, political views, net worth, weight, or whatever shouldn’t play a role in judging abilities. I hate everyone the same :-) Just kidding.
    .-= Jeff´s last blog ..Rental Programs, A new way out for Homeowners? =-.

    • says

      LOL. I’m thoroughly impressed you hate everyone the same buddy. I hate you too!

      That is impressive at such a young age you are a manager of folks old enough to be your parent, and you nor they mind. That is a strong skill to have, as I personally would feel uncomfortable managing someone 20+ years older than me b/c I have such a STRONG sense of reverence for my elders. I would feel bad making them doing anything, b/c I always feel I should be doing something for them.

      If my employees were 5 years older, I can manager.. but 10 years or older, I have to admit, it’s tough. Something I need to work on.

      Cheers, Sam
      .-= admin´s last blog ..Riding Rocketships For Greater Success =-.

  12. Boris says

    Sam,
    I haven’t seen age discrimination in Canada. (Where I live).
    The best definition that I have heard of an old person is: “Somebody who is ten or more years oldear than me”.
    I think that we tend to think that old people are rigid and young people flexible. This is not true. Generalizations are usually wrong!
    All the best,
    Boris
    .-= Boris´s last blog ..Put Magic in your Life =-.

    • says

      Generalizations are usually wrong for many. However, generalizations come about b/c there have been enough examples to warrant such generalization.

  13. says

    It’s tough to generalize people’s traits based on their age. I know people in their 50s who are still open to learning new tricks and I know kids fresh out of college who are happy to continue working with the tools and applications they learned in school and refuse to consider new ideas.

    That being said, I still think most of your generalizations hold true. They are not 100% ironclad, but they are a good rule of thumb.

    I pride myself on never resting on my laurels and expanding my knowledge base. It’s almost a self-preservation thing because the older I get, the more expensive I become to my employer – so I strive to give him value for what he pays me. Otherwise, why not fire me in favor of a younger, cheaper engineer? I would if I was the employer.

    All the best,

    Len
    Len Penzo dot Com
    .-= Len Penzo´s last blog ..Expedia, Orbitz, Priceline and Others: What’s the Best Travel Search Engine? =-.

  14. says

    Hey,

    I think that it’s very important to note that a positive perception of older employees is that they are good leaders. They’ve often raised children into mature young adults and I think that that experience in itself is an amazing training tool for conflict resolution and leadership.

    Don’t discount the older employees. Instead, work with them and give them the opportunity to use their skills and experience supervising and leading others.
    .-= Guy G.´s last blog ..Grocery Saving Tips – Tips on Budgeting =-.

  15. says

    Age discrimination definitely exists, especially in the computer industry, where I have worked for 25 years. The statistics show that it takes an extra week to find a computer job for every year older than age 42. In my opinion, it has gotten much better for older workers, as the computer industry itself has matured. Nevertheless, I have srubbed those ’80s jobs off of my resume, even though it was awesome experience working at the birth of the industry.

    As for the argument that older workers are expensive, crusty and set in their ways, I think it’s true for some people. It’s also true that some young people are flaky, entitled and have an attitude. I don’t think hiring managers should assign these traits to everyone in an age bracket. Unfortunately, it makes for a convenient way to eliminate resumes.

  16. says

    At this point in my career I’ve been on both sides. With my first management position at 19 I had some employees over 40. At the time, it was I that experienced age discrimination. Now, I am over 40 and feel it on the other side. It is not a big deal or bad but it does exist.

    I believe you want to retire so that you have freedom of choice. I don’t think age discrimination would stop a person like you for a second!
    .-= LeanLifeCoach´s last blog ..Combat The Closing Techniques – The Reverse Psychology Close =-.

    • says

      You were managing people at 19? I think if I was one of your employees and 40 years old, I couldn’t help but haze and make your life difficult! :)

      I’m just saying perhaps we unconsciously are afraid of getting discriminating against as we get older, as to the reason why so many of us want to be financially independent and report to nobody by our forties.

  17. says

    There is no question there is age discrimination. Being about 60 I can say many my age are unwilling to learn new things. Some get a know it all attitude. Add this to heath issues and who wants to hire an old geezer?
    The best teams have a cross section of age groups and an older person can see things a younger one cannot.
    .-= Daddy Paul´s last blog ..The best taxable bond mutual funds =-.

    • says

      Hi Daddy Paul – Are you describing age discrimination or what happens when many people turn 60? What you describe kind makes employers want to age discriminate no? Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  18. James says

    this company must have been an internet company with most of there workers in their 20’s & 30’s. if not it would be hard for me to fathom this section about 40 somethings.

  19. Paula says

    I have had a unique perspective on this very issue… MSN just recently ran a web article about “What if you’re retired and you don’t know it?”.

    Generally, the article tried to “explain” why it has been so challenging for those over 50 to find work in “this” economy. Showing a very Dark Side, indeed, to “Forced Retirement”.

    Specifically, a very silent movement to “legally ignore” those who could even look like they are “of a certain age” and who are looking for work, (Corporate attitude says,” Due to the economic down turn, ‘younger’ is best to be hired because employers “can’t” pay a “Living Wage” to anyone – therefore – it’s those who are currently “living with Mom and Dad” into their late twenties and who don’t “need” the money who get hired… )

    And, the local Department of Labor is no assurance of being “allowed” to find a job or get further training to finally find work. One “Vocational Rehab Specialist” told me, (after I’d taken all the required testing to see if I was even capable of being trained, and yes, I was deemed “educatable and trainable” in 23 PAGES WORTH of jobs and their specific requirements… My specific choice also represented… And, when I approached her about entering training to be a “Certified Psychologist” – NOT a “Psychiatrist”), I was treated to THIS response, “Are you kidding? You’d be ready for Social Security by the time you graduate!”

    That was a real slap in the face because she’s OLDER than I am! And, no, the abuse didn’t stop and when I formally requested a different “Specailist” I was told, (by the Supervisor SHE trained), “No.”

    Gee, must be nice to get $50,000.00+ a year just to be a “Mean Girl”, hunh?

  20. Carolyn J Venable says

    @ neal@wealthpilgrim

    I’m a 49 yr old seeking employment. I enjoy working with the younger crowd personally. So a Year ago I enrolled into college once again. My major is IT/Networking minor Web Design. I love technology but adaptability is key. I believe you got to have passion for your second chance but the problem I do face is the stereotype of the older worker. Ironic the younger people are more accepting of older people learning things that appeal to younger workers BUT you got to have a passion for your interest. I get my degree in April of 2010 and will re-enroll to complete my BS of criminal justice.

  21. iwasdiscriminatedagainst says

    I have been discriminated against at 39 and a year later. I went into one interview and they asked me straight up if I would have issues working with younge people. I had anothe interview where they were considering out loud about hiring me. Welll…we do have some people here YOUR age…

    Just the fact that the law is not to discriminate against 40 and over tells you something. I get botox and juvederm now and had thermage. It took more than 10 years off my looks. I don’t get those age questions anymore. This society is youth obsessed and it hits women hardest. Forty is like an invisible barrier you cross where suddenly, especially if you’re a woman, you’re OLD. Period. If you can look younger its to your advantage. And don’t run around divulging your age either. It is what it is.

  22. Pigbitin Mad says

    I have worked for people 15 years younger than me and it is not a big deal. Of course, I am not going to act like your mother [I am probably 100 times edgier than most “young” people who listen to American Idol]. I have no idea what percentage of people google me, but that Intellius web site (and 123 Pipl and all the rest) are killing us by giving our ages away. Anyone who sees I am 49 before they meet me, will assume I am some fuddy duddy. Lets face it, I hate today’s music only because so much of it sounds like something Nancy Reagan would have approved of.

  23. John I. says

    @neal@wealthpilgrim

    Really? I have found that most 40 year old people’s resumes dont even get looked at so how you know that they wont do things differently is correct is suspect.

    Addtionally, doing things differently doesnt mean that those things are being done correctly.

    I would find it hard to believe that any unemployed 45 year old wouldnt love to do things differently at the prospect of getting a job. Heck, Ive seen 70 year olds that would love to do things differently for employment.

    You are the one that sounds dated!

  24. JOANN FRATELLI says

    Boy are you right. It just is not fair for us 50 somethings to work and give the best years of our lives and then get the boot for being to middle aged for these new positions coming out.

  25. Jacqueline says

    Age discrimination starts at a young age. Age discrimination exists definitely. I have learned more from the older generations than I have from the younger generations all my life. I remember being only 16 years old, yet I was the smartest/fastest at the bank I worked at. But, my maturity level to others was not at their communication level. At age 19, I worked at my first office and again, was better than my predecessors and was discriminated. I’ve experienced issues at work due to age / gender / and level of management. However, why is it that I am smarter than the managers who are at the executive level? They do it their way, they lose millions to billions. They do it my way, they would have $aved and create more jobs in this country. Now that I am older, I definitely see the age discrimination for the older employees. Quite frankly the older generation (though slower than the younger generation), more skilled. Very few younger employees do I find just as equal as the older employees, they’re typically the smartest employees and who will go far in their careers. People who discriminate based on age / gender / race … etc. should be fired! This is why the country is where it is at. I would take the best 18/19 year-old and 50-year old and put them in a high-level management position based on intelligence / performance and skill sets. It’s the people who are old or young that should condition them to be happy they have a job regardless the age of the manager they work for. The best managers in the positions will help this country be successful and productive to compete with the other countries in the world. We should put our best people in management positions, not the knuckleheads who put us in the bad financial position we’re in. At the end of the day, we’re all in the same boat, and we all live in the same country.

  26. Borqueman says

    I think it’s time for the over 40 to unite and start demonstrating. If Occupy Wall Street has clout why not the older worker. We need a grass root movement so we the older worker can be heard!! If anyone has ideas on how to get a campaign going please e-mail me at robertwells123@comcast.net. Our spirit needs to be united and our voices heard!!

  27. pleaseitexists says

    What age do you think age discrimination starts?
    It began at 39 for me. One place asked if I would be uncomfortable with younger bosses, another company said “well, we have people your age here.” As if I gave a flying squirrel. Age discrimination not only exists, but it starts at 40. If you don’t look 12 and energetic, you are likely not to be a good fit. Now mind you, I get my foot in the door at 39 because I happened to look 29 at the time. But I wasn’t.
    If age discrimination is all in everyone’s head, why is it that workers over 50 have been out of work on average a year or more during the economic downturn? Do you mean to suggest every one that age is a technological dummy? Co’mon. We’ve had computers in the workplace since the 80s, that’s 30 freaking years, and we’ve had the office suite for at least 20 years now.
    Everybody and their mother knows how to use one, even my 60-some year old aunt has a tablet and a smart phone, my 50-something year old cousin is the web master of our family website. This is an ageist culture in which old people and increasing middle aged people are warehoused and considered “other” particularly women. The media amplifies and perpetuates these attitudes. It’s pervasive and it affects people on every socioeconomic level. You’re either extremely young and/or naïve if you don’t think ageism is not a factor.

  28. says

    Wow, it’s all my fault huh, I suppose it must be true then. After all the Internet tells me so and that’s run by all the smart young people. I’m starting to feel like the world really wants to be like the movie “Logan’s Run.” The whole premise of that was people over 30 were of no further use and needed to be vaporized to ensure the population continued to look pretty.

    There is a bias but overcoming it isn’t just a matter of a positive attitude and a work ethic like a Pharoh’s slave. There needs to be a societal change that stops judging people on superficial traits like age, looks or how many facebook likes they have. We’re more invested in reality TV than we are each other. That’s why nothing really ever gets done.

  29. Iris says

    So if I am getting this right, 29 is still too young and 39 is approaching too old. So really you have 10 good years in the workforce where you are considered viable, but you have 40+ years to work in total. What is wrong with this picture? We are setting everyone up to have 30 years of failure. We have to be the generation that redefines ourselves. I see it everyday, the 40 somethings who don’t take care of themselves physically and publically complain about how old they feel. They blame it on age when it is lack of maintenance that got them there. Talk about bad PR for the middle-aged set. We do this to ourselves. Be the change you want to see in the world.

  30. BJ says

    I have never understood this. I am 39. I find older workers to have much better computer skills (regarding Microsoft office) than early twenty somethings. The younger crowd is usually exposed to a quick course which covers the basics. Older workers have been using the software daily since it first came out. I would put my $$ on a 50 year old executive assistant vs. a 25 year old. Younger workers (not all) tend to not be detailed and are sloppy with the work they produce.

    I think this whole notion of young people being more tech savvy is bull. Why do you think so many teens get viruses on home computers? Because they don’t know what they are doing….just clicking on everything.

    I can’t believe workers are expected to have earned their max salary by 40.
    Nowadays the gov. does’t want us to retire at 70. Employers don’t want to hire you if they think you will want to get a better position in a couple of years. So you work your butt off for a few years in the same position. Then you try to apply for a position that makes more but that company doesn’t want to hire you due to lack of experience. So, just how does one move up in the work force within 17 years?

    Employers are requesting past check stubs. They don’t want to make an offer more than a little above what you were earning. You’re only “worth” what the last employer paid. So if you were making $25,000 a year at an entry level job after college, you might be earning $40,000 by the time you are 40 (depending on the field). Now you are considered over the hill….that’s ridiculous.

    A few years ago I picked up a part time job in a kitchen on the weekends. It was a nice restaurant but they only paid close to minimum wage for cooks. There were the late teen/early twenty somethings, me in my mid thirties, and several workers ranging from late forties to early sixties. Whenever I was paired with an older worker, our food presentation came out looking great, we could keep up with the food orders, servers were happy, etc. We all worked together as a team and would help each other out to ensure the “whole” kitchen was running smoothly.

    This was not so when I was paired with younger workers. They were terrible at multi-tasking in a fast paced kitchen. They weren’t capable of assessing how much food to prep before the shift, or how to asses the cook time of getting an appetizer out long before the entree is cooked. The food was sloppy on the plate….etc. I was always over stressed with having to make sure I assessed for the both of us. Then I would start delegating to make sure things didn’t get too hairy. Some of the younger people were relieved and said the kitchen always ran smoother when I was around. Some had an attitude because I wasn’t their boss. In that case, the kitchen always crashed, and servers and customers were upset.

    • says

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts! Let us know if anything changes once you hit 4-0 next year :)

      Perceptions take time to change. So with people like you showing how it’s done, things will change!

  31. ml says

    Wd be nice if you’d retract your statement that if you’re discriminated against it’s your own fault. Obviously, as a white male who quit working for other people b4 you hit 40 you haven’t experienced discrimination, right? So because it hasn’t happened to you, you feel free to judge other people?

    Discrimination in the workplace is simply a way of preventing socio-economic mobility. For those of us who weren’t born w/money or connections it takes us a lot longer to succeed. Then by the time we do, we’re told we’re “too old.”

    Employers like to hire younger employees so they can take advantage of them easier, i.e., pay them less than they’re worth, make them work long hours unpaid, not provide them w/benefits, etc. They’re so focused on maximizing their profits and, therefore, lowering salaries and benefits that they’ll hire people with no experience who’ll do a half-arsed job rather than hire an older employee whose work experience and skill would mandate a higher salary. Of course, in the long run, hiring more competent employees leads to better products and services, happier customers, and a sustainable business. But they’re only looking at their immediate bottom line. There’s a word for this: greed.

    Greed is destroying the entire country and many people are suffering. But then we have people who’d rather blame the victim than work toward solving the problem. Just because you happen to be lucky enough to be doing well doesn’t mean the rest of us are doing something wrong. Many employers use that tactic to get away with discrimination, by the way. I’ve seen coworkers pushed out of their jobs simply because of the color of their skin, harassed by a racist supervisor until they quit. But the supervisor tried to make it appear the black employees were doing something wrong. They weren’t. In fact, they were practically model employees. That was the problem. The supervisor was afraid a black person might work her way up to management. And racist/sexist/ageist supervisors don’t want that.

    Discrimination, whether by age, race or gender, is a reality. It holds people back and destroys some people’s lives. There’s absolutely nothing I can do about someone else’s prejudices (against me or anyone else.) Of course, as a society there’s plenty we can do but as an individual we can only control our own behavior, not the thoughts, actions or perceptions of others.

    Thank you for writing this article and getting people to think about this issue, but shame on you for suggesting we blame the victim. An apology or retraction of that statement would be nice.

    BTW, I worked in the arts and entertainment industry where women are over the hill at age 28. I looked younger than my age but then thanks to the Patriot Act we’ve had to start showing two forms of ID to employers so they could see our age right away. In that industry, age discrimination is HUGE, particularly against women. Doesn’t even matter if you’re attractive or look younger. They see your age and you’re out. End of story. I was considered to be a top employee until I reached a certain age then suddenly people less skilled and qualified than I was got the most attention, even when their lack of skill and experience was obvious.

    But I guess it’s futile trying to explain discrimination to someone who’s never experienced it.

    • says

      Is discrimination by looks and age legal in the arts and entertainment industry? I’ve seen some cases where it is with like news anchors and such.

      Anyhoo, discrimination is very real.

  32. SIL says

    Last year my business went bust, so I’m training to be a teacher at the age of 43. There seems to be loads of ageism in teaching, but not from the kids, they’re great and say I’m a ‘really cool teacher’, they don’t care whether their teacher is 25, 45 or 65 – I’m not even sure they would notice to be honest, adults are all ‘old’ when you’re 12. My specific problem are three young (22-25) female teachers who are being total bitches about my age and at the same time sexist (manist?), openly and behind my back and it’s making me want to quit. I’m really easy going and I’ve always enjoyed working with people of different ages/sex/race – I don’t think you can judge a book by it’s cover and you need to give everyone a chance on their own merits. I’ve never treated these ‘girls’ with anything other than the kind of courtesy you’d expect from a co-worker, so I don’t understand what they’ve got against me – other than I’m a bit older than them and a guy. Co-workers (younger and older than me) have told the girls to lay off with no result, and I don’t want to complain about it to my boss, because I know he’ll just treat it as a joke. Now I’m looking for a job/workplace where I’ll be working with people my own age (or older).

    Is Ageism after 40 a problem? YES! When most of us can expect to retire at around 70 and live to over 80, ‘old age’ does not start at 40, 50, or even 60…

    As for women in the arts and entertainment business being considered ‘too old’ after 28, I can’t believe how short sighted that is – as a guy of 43 I’d really like to see more attractive women in their late 30’s-mid 40’s on TV, there are plenty of them around and they’re the right age for me now – not 20 year olds. When I’m 73, it’ll be attractive over 60 year olds… Otherwise, considering the average age of the viewer is over 40, who are we catering too, dirty old men?

  33. RA says

    I think people over the age of 40-65 or even older have a lot to contribute. People are more youth oriented these days and up to date on new tecnology. It does depend on the individual person of course. I think having all ages working together is great, it offers more diversity. If the person is qualified for the job, give them a chance whatever their age is!

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