Discrimination: It’s Not Just for Young People, Anymore

A group of people who probably rarely if ever experienced discrimination in their lives could be in for a big surprise.
And an unpleasant one.
“Elderly people experience a type of discrimination that’s prevalent, and it has nothing to do with the color of their skin, their religion or socio-economic status,” Marlo Sollitto writes on the website AgingCare.com. “ ‘What do you expect at your age?’ ‘You’re not getting any younger!’ Do these statements sound familiar?” The ‘old geezer’ stereotype is an unjust and prejudicial generalization that assumes all older adults naturally become weak, sick and forgetful. This is what constitutes ageism.”
“Discrimination against the elderly is a bias against the elderly based on their age and not on individual merit of the individual,” H.V. Long points out on the website seniorslovetoknow.com.” While discrimination usually refers to negative behavior, it can also refer to increased generosity and kindness towards the age group because of their age. In cases of discrimination against the elderly, the discrimination may also include acts of psychological and physical punishment.”
The author of the article cites some examples:

  • Older employees may be forced to take early retirement or phased out of their employment situations
  • Age limits implemented preventing more mature employees from taking advantage of educational programs
  • Limits on available public transportation, diminishing quality of life
  • Lack of supportive education to overcome diverse barriers in technology

“Society maintains a stereotype about elderly Americans,” Long continues. “In many ways, the stereotype is negative associated with perceptions about aging. This negative stereotype is perpetuated by jokes and common phrases such as old fart, over the hill, older than dirt and more. This prejudice against the elderly is likely to shift as a person ages.”
A law, and one with some real teeth, is in place to protect older Americans against discrimination, but all too often the victims of age prejudice are unaware of their rights or reluctant to exercise them.
“The Age Discrimination in Employment Act prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of age,” according to the website of the Legal Information Institute at Cornell University Law School.” The prohibited practices closely parallel those outlined in Title 7 and protect employees over the age of 40 from discrimination. The ADEA contains explicit guidelines for benefit, pension, and retirement plans.” This statute is in some ways even more favorable to older people than laws governing other forms of discrimination.
“The Age Discrimination in Employment Act only forbids age discrimination against people who are age 40 or older,” according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. “It does not protect workers under the age of 40, although some states do have laws that protect younger workers from age discrimination. It is not illegal for an employer or other covered entity to favor an older worker over a younger one, even if both workers are age 40 or older.
“Discrimination can occur when the victim and the person who inflicted the discrimination are both over 40.”

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