Many types of discrimination clearly target one group. For instance, racial discrimination targets minorities and makes it harder for them to advance or get certain jobs. With age discrimination, though, there is evidence that things can work in either direction: Both older and younger workers can suffer harm.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission states that workers who are over 40 years of age should not be discriminated against in favor of younger workers. Discrimination against older workers was so common that it was necessary to pass a law protecting them. Why? For one thing, older workers may have higher salary requirements. The government doesn’t want people to be phased out of their careers in their 40s or 50s just because the company wants to pay a recent college graduate less money to do the same job. This ruling gives older workers some protection. 

However, an article in Forbes indicates that young workers are often discriminated against as well. This is particularly true for those who are under 30, such as young Millennials and older Generation Z workers. Employers have said that these individuals “don’t know how to work” and are “unpredictable” in nature, so they may not want to hire them.  

Does this mean that we should redefine what age discrimination looks like? Clearly, experience plays a role, and older workers will have more. If young workers aren’t getting hired for their age, though, and not because of their lack of experience, does that make it impossible to get a foot in the door?

Discrimination is a complex topic that impacts people differently. If you have been discriminated against on the job, you need to know what steps to take.