IT’s silent career killer: Age discrimination

Recent reports that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) found technology company Intel had discriminated against eight older workers during mass layoffs in 2015 have shed light on a topic that often remains in the dark: age discrimination against older workers in IT.

It’s an issue that never seems to go away, and it can hinder career advancement for IT professionals — even at a time when many tech skills are in high demand. Given that a large share of professionals in the workforce are nearing traditional retirement ages, the number of discrimination cases may only rise.

“I am definitely seeing more instances of age discrimination across the board, including with IT positions,” says David Miklas, a management, labor, and employment attorney who regularly works with business owners and CEOs to prevent and defend litigation on all types of employment law matters.

“Age discrimination is a particular problem with the tech industry, because of the tendency for many tech companies to be startups and often run by fairly younger individuals,” Miklas says.

There is a widespread misconception in most industries that older employees are not “digital savvy” and are afraid to learn new things when it comes to technology, Miklas adds. “This assumption often results in decisions that can result in being sued for age discrimination, especially when the older worker is passed over for promotion, not hired, or terminated,” he says.

One issue that arises more in age discrimination claims than other types of discrimination is an employer’s use of selection criteria for hiring, promotion, or layoff decisions that are susceptible to assumptions about age, says Raymond Peeler, director of the Coordination Division, Office of Legal Counsel at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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