This article in the Irish Times gives an interesting perspective on discrimination of older males in the workforce. It's an area of discrimination that is growing especially in the tech space where it's cool to have an average age of under 30 in the office.
The article interviews Bob Crum and states:
Bob Crum finally bailed out of the tech industry last year, after four decades working for Silicon Valley companies such as Hewlett-Packard, Sun Microsystems and Cisco. When his contract with Cisco ended, he tried to find a job elsewhere, but quickly discovered that, aged 62, his “richness of experience” was seen as a hindrance, not a help, in today’s tech industry.
“I was told: ‘We decided to give this job to someone earlier in their career, your experience was a long time ago.’ Those were hurtful things to say to someone who was eminently qualified,” he says.
“After several months trying to get back into the tech world, I just threw up my hands and mentally told myself, I’m retired from high tech and will move on to bigger and better things.”
Mr Crum is now working for a non-profit and preparing to open a craft brewery. But he still resents the way he was treated by an industry obsessed with youth – and apparently immune to age discrimination laws.
This is shocking discrimination and it is happening with more regularity. While age discrimination can happen to the younger employee it is generally targeted at the older employee. We have all heard of an older male colleague referred to as a dinosaur at some stage in our working lives!
The important point is that this is illegal. Organisations should make it clear in their dignity at work policies that all employees are equal and have the right to respect in the workplace. When hiring and interviewing, companies should be careful not to refer to someone as over qualified or as having too much experience. The article wisely advises that tech recruitment adverts should not look for 'digital natives' as this implies you were born after the internet became widespread.
Remember what happened Ryanair before? They sought 'young and dynamic' candidates and were reprimanded by the then Equality Tribunal for discriminatory advertising. Who said you had to be young in order to be dynamic!?
You do not have to have hired a person for them to be able to take a discrimination claim against you. In some circumstances people who did not even apply for the job can make a complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission that the job ad was discriminatory or displayed an intention to discriminate.
Make sure any recruiter you use also know they have to avoid age discrimination when discussing roles and interview processes with candidates.
If you need assistance on an employment law issue please contact a member of our Employment Law & Data Protection Team.
Disclaimer:This article is for guidance purposes only. It does not constitute legal or professional advice. No liability is accepted by Leman Solicitors for any action taken or not taken in reliance on the information set out in this publication. Professional or legal advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from any action as a result of the contents of this publication. Any and all information is subject to change.
Ashton Applewhite, author of This Chair Rocks: a Manifesto Against Ageism, says one of the reasons few age discrimination lawsuits are brought is people are reluctant to identify themselves as older. “Age discrimination is often the first kind of discrimination that white men encounter in the workplace,” she says. “I’m really looking forward to those guys getting radicalised and joining the movement.” –