STEM Age Discrimination: How Age Benefits Employees and Employers
The obsession with youth doesn’t stop in Hollywood but actually expands to the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) job market as well. More mature employees are left with few options: either try to blend into a younger demographic or plan an escape route. Age discrimination is a respecter of none.
Despite the fact that employees over the age of 50 are often just reaching some of their most productive years, employers are quick to find tricky ways to terminate older workers and replace them with younger employees. Age discrimination is illegal. Anyone over the age of 40 who experience age discrimination should contact an employment lawyer to discover available legal solutions.
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Odds Against Older Workers
STEM research changes quickly, making old techniques and information obsolete at a rapid pace. While many young people have grown up with technology, older generations that pioneered much of what we use today are falling behind. Technology-centric companies seek young talent and ignore older workers, essentially age discrimination.
“Our policy is literally to hire as many talented engineers as we can find. The whole limit in the system is that there aren’t enough people who are trained and have these skills today,” shares Mark Zukerberg, CEO of Facebook. “I want to stress the importance of being young and technical. Young people are just smarter. Young people just have simpler lives. We may not own a car. We may not have family. Simplicity in life allows you to focus on what’s important.”
Companies recognize that older and younger employees model different sets of values. While older employees often have families to go home to, younger employees can focus solely on their job, giving more hours and brain power to their employer. Moreover, New York Times has recognized that the median age of successful tech companies is really young. This begs the question, “Are technology companies discriminating based on age?”
Research also shows that workers who are 50 and older positively impact organizations with their productivity, stability, and experience. In fact, most workers over the age of 50 are motivated to contribute more to their work than younger age groups. Companies that see only worth in younger employees miss out on the experience and stability of older employees.
Age Discrimination in STEM Fields
Since STEM fields want new, younger talent, age discrimination lawsuits have risen in the past years. Sometimes the only clues to age discrimination comes in the form of company patterns to lay off only individuals over a certain age. With most discrimination, subtle patterns reveal the underlying illegal employment discrimination.
Inappropriate Remarks about Age
In some cases, employers disrespect employees by making comments about their age. And this can reveal the existence of age discrimination. For example, Debra Moreno, a 54-year-old employee at a Honolulu health care company, sued her employer when she was fired. She learned that the company owner had said she looked “like a bag of bones” and “sounds old on the telephone.” Debra won her suit for age discrimination. (EEOC v. Hawaii Healthcare Professionals, Inc., 2012)
Age Discrimination in Hiring Practices
At other times, a potential job applicants with all the qualifications and experience might apply for a job and not be hired due to age. Robert Heath, a 60-year-old software engineer, sought a job with Google in 2011, and despite qualifications and being called a “great candidate” by a Google recruiter, Heath was overlooked for the position. He filed a lawsuit. (Heath v. Google, Inc., 2015)
Age Discrimination in Job Termination
Companies often discriminate against older workers by firing them in order to make more room in the company for younger workers. For Robert Braden, this was true, when his employer fired him despite his “excellent” job performance. He also noticed that the company terminated five other workers, all were over the age of 50. Robert Braden won his lawsuit. (Braden v. Lockheed Martin Corporation, 2014)
Change STEM Culture: How to Deal with STEM Age Discrimination and File a Lawsuit
No doubt employment discrimination in the STEM field due to age needs to stop. And with all types of discrimination, this change happens in the very threads of culture. After all, much of our stereotypes are learned.
Older employees in the STEM field must be creative in choosing how to handle age discrimination. Some choose to craft a youthful appearance and energy while others build an escape route. While these options might temporarily benefit an older employee, a discrimination lawyer can help an older employee truly raise the alarm on age discrimination.
6 Positive Ways Older Employees Can Stand Out
1. Use stereotypes to your advantage.
Play against the stereotypes of younger workers and highlight how older workers improve the company culture with experience and motivation to do quality work.
2. Show your deep roots.
The benefit of more mature employees is life experience that helps to handle difficult work situations with wisdom. Older employees are often looking for long term rather than just a stepping-stone position.
3. Loyalty equals productivity.
For an older employee, settling into a long term position means that productivity is multiplied. Experience in the job role require minimal training and helps the employee to learn faster.
4. Hard earned know-how
Experience often requires mistakes and solutions. A mature employee understands why different techniques work or don’t work, saving time and effort.
5. Stay up to date
One of the biggest fears for companies is that more mature employees have fallen behind on recent technology updates. Be sure to show that you are more than knowledgeable in a number of areas.
6. Suggest creative employment options beneficial to the company.
Some mature employees desire to continue their careers while others plan to retire. In this ever altering world, companies might see the benefit in job-sharing, work from home, consulting, or phased retirement.
5 Things to Do to Sue for Age Discrimination
Dealing with employment discrimination is an uncomfortable experience, especially when dealing with the emotions of the event. A discrimination lawyer helps you to deal with the situation and provides legal solutions to age discrimination, whether in hiring, firing, or routine work. Speak up not only for yourself but for others who may experience the same treatment.
1. Contact an employment discrimination lawyer.
Employment lawyers understand the ins and outs of the law and how to implement it to best help an age discrimination case. KM&A lawyers fight for the rights of employees on a daily basis. Chat with a lawyer now.
2. Ask about anti-discrimination laws.
While the federal law provides the base laws for employee rights, state law often builds upon those laws, offering employees more protections.
3. Send all signed employment contracts to your lawyer.
If you have been terminated and you were forced to sign a severance agreement, you have only seven days to change your mind. By law, you have 21 days to consider agreeing to a severance package. A lawyer recognizes the best deals available to you.
4. Document anything suggesting age discrimination.
Emails or conversations that reveal possible age discrimination could become important evidence to an age discrimination case. If a boss says something like, “You’re looking pretty gray. Time to retire, eh?” write down the statement and date it.
5. File a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
If an employment discrimination lawyer believes that you have an age discrimination case, your lawyer can dual file a complaint with the EEOC and PHRA for you. After 60 days, the EEOC must inform you whether or not you have a case. Even if they dismiss it, you could choose to file a lawsuit with the help of a good lawyer.
If you are a mature employee and have experienced age discrimination, contact a discrimination attorney now to hear your legal options.