Age discrimination has significant negative impacts on most people who experience it. A recent government report shows that the most commonly reported effect of age discrimination is a negative impact on the person’s self-esteem or mental health, or increased levels of stress. This is followed closely by a negative impact on family, career and finances. Despite legislative changes and increased awareness of the issue in more recent years, unfortunately age discrimination continues to be part of the culture of some workplaces and work practices. Interestingly many older workers are not always aware of when they are being discriminated against.

Given the importance of encouraging older workers to remain in, or to re-enter the workforce, this is a major concern. One thing I have noticed is that many people in the baby boomer generation don’t seem to ever really retire. For a variety of reasons, many continue to work part time, some in their chosen field of expertise, some in a different field. Retiring early with a redundancy payout isn’t always what we expect, and it is not uncommon for people in this situation to return to work in another capacity. With one third of the most recent episodes of age discrimination occurring when people apply for a job, and other common forms relating to limited promotion and training opportunities, or jokes and derogatory comments based on age, it is not surprising that a person’s confidence, takes a hit.

For those who do experience age discrimination in the workplace, it is a sad fact that many don’t take any action to report it. It is easier to just keep quiet, to save any embarrassment or to avoid the stress that inevitably comes with having to prove what has happened, and having to continue in work relationships where trust has been compromised. Unfortunately this creates what really is a lose-lose situation. Just because someone is over 50 doesn’t mean they should be put on the scrap heap. Experience and reliability should count for more than it seems to.

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