Ageism study yields surprising results

Media outlets in Tennessee and around the country often portray age discrimination in the workplace as an issue primarily affecting women, but a study published recently by a leading career website suggests that men are just as likely to face the problem. Fairygodboss polled 1,000 workers over the age of 40 about their workplace experiences, and more men than women told them that they had been rejected for a position they applied for because of their age.

The study did contain some encouraging findings. Almost three-quarters of the respondents said that they had not encountered ageism at work, and only 6% said that they had endured negative age-based comments from a manager or supervisor. Most of those that did say they were treated unfairly because of their age told researchers that the discrimination or harassment began before they reached the age of 45. More than a third of the male respondents and 39% of the women said that they encountered this kind of discrimination an age that would have been considered fairly young just a few years ago.

While only 2% of the respondents admitted to lying about their age to avoid workplace discrimination, many more said that they changed their style of dress or appearance in an effort to look younger. Almost one in five said that they colored their hair and 6% told researchers that they tried to dress younger.

The victims of ageism are often reluctant to step forward because they are worried about retaliation and the difficulties they could face finding a new job. Attorneys with experience in this area could put those fears to rest by explaining the serious sanctions employers could face under state and federal law for firing, demoting or otherwise punishing workers who file discrimination or harassment claims.

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