I work in a retail store stocking product in the evening and I am 66 year old woman. I and a number of other older women and even men are constantly being told that we are not working fast enough and have to step up the pace, and we are being compared to much younger workers who we are told are working faster than we are at getting the product on the shelves. Does this constitute age discrimination in the work place?
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Initially, allow me to say that I hope things get better. Anytime a workplace setting is uncomfortable, it really is terrible.
There are a couple of items in play with this issue. The first is that I am not sure that the comparisons being made constitute the legal definition of "age discrimination." The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) speaks to specific hiring practices, being fired, or other tangible evidence in which opportunities are being denied because of age. The comments of being compared to younger staff might not fit within this.
However, I do think that what is being said is in the same ballpark as the issue of age discrimination that the Act is meant to target and eliminate. If you have a human resources officer in the workplace, I think that you and your colleagues might want to speak with the the department about what is happening. Since the comments about age comparisons are fairly close to the issues identitifed in the ADEA legislation, speaking to your human resources officer or someone in that capacity might cause the supervisor to think twice before making such comments.
Finally, I would pay attention to the net result of the comments. If in evaluations or anything formal being written about your performance and your colleagues' performance, there is language comparing you to younger colleagues, you have a good case to make about age discrimination. If opportunities are being denied to you as a result of age bias, then you have a claim that can be made regarding age discrimination. As always, seeking legal counsel regarding any workplace situation where there is a question of bias or prejudice is a good thing, also. However, I think that the first step in remedying this situation is for you and your colleagues to speak to Human Resources or someone in the position of power about your experiences and ensure that your voice is heard. Change can happen from this point.
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