Workplace age discrimination is unlawful under federal law and under Michigan state law. Age discrimination protects employees and prospective employees over the age of 40 from being discriminated against in the hiring process and during their employment. For prospective employees, age discrimination generally means a refusal to hire a candidate based on age. During employment, age discrimination can manifest in multiple ways.
Workplace discrimination can mean firing a person based on a protected characteristic like age, but it can also include a refusal to promote an employee or to pay the employee equal wages. Sometimes, employers discriminate against employees as a way to try to force them out of the company. Employers often have an incentive to drive older employees out because employees with a longer tenure typically command a higher salary. Other times, employers discriminate against older employees based on personal bias, such as a belief that older employees are less technologically capable.
Employers can discriminate against employees over the age of 40 by marginalizing them, which can make employees feel unimportant or undervalued. One form of marginalizing employees is to exclude them from work meetings or conversations in which someone in their position normally would be expected to participate. Another way to marginalize employees is to give them assignments that are well below their pay grade without justification.
If an employee believes he or she is being discriminated against and feels comfortable doing so, the employee can try asking the employer to explain why they did not promote or include the employee. If an employer provides a subpar explanation that appears unrelated to the employee’s performance, this may be a sign that the employer had discriminatory motives. Employees who feel they have been discriminated against may also consult with a plaintiff-side employment law attorney for guidance.