Age Discrimination: Are Seniors Too Old To Work?


            How would you feel if you were not allowed to get a job because you were too old? Or denied other basic human rights because of your age? Many seniors are being forced to live with these questions as they are increasingly being denied job opportunities in this poor economic climate. Age discrimination for jobs has seen an increase over the years and continues to negatively affect seniors.
            Age discrimination has not always been at the forefront of controversy but remains a major problem in today’s society. Normally when discrimination is discussed people associate it with race, sex, or even religion but age discrimination has seen an increase in the recent years (Burnett, 2011) proving it is just as an important of an issue as the others. According to Curt Burnett in 2011, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reported 23,465 complaints about age discrimination, which was a 35 percent increase from 2001. Although these numbers are not as high as race, which has about over 35,000 complaints in 2011, or sex discrimination collecting about 28,000 complaints (EEOP, 2011) the increase demonstrates that it is not a problem that is subsiding. With a struggling economy that is causing seniors to come out of retirement, it is important that they receive equal opportunities for jobs. The number of workers whose age is 50-64 is projected to rise 40 percent over the next 4 years. (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012). Clearly displaying those seniors will remain a very big part of the American work force.
            The ramifications of the senior work force being denied jobs can be detrimental to their health and lives. The seniors affected would have no way of sustaining themselves financially and physically.  With no money and nothing to keep them busy seniors can suffer serious cases of depression and loneness. It takes a person 55 and older three months longer to find a job then a young person. (Hannon, 2012) Within this time a senior can be suffer from psychological effects. According to McDowell’s 2012 report avoidance is a common and generally the most destructive condition that seniors being turned away suffer from. The fact that they are being turned away because of their age can cause them to turn to drugs and alcohol to avoid the stereotype. This “avoidance” can often lead to depression and in some circumstances suicide (McDowell, 2012). Jobs give seniors structure and keep them in a daily routine. By denying them this it opening up the door to problems and poorer self-rated health (Span, 2012).
            Age discrimination’s increase can be a result of many factors including stereotyping, performance worries, and financial problems. With the work place becoming more and more technological base many companies will opt to hire a young, computer-literate person rather then an older person (Mann, 2012). The worry here is that the older person would not be able to learn and be stuck in his or her own ways. They would not be able to adapt to the new technology and therefore not benefit the company (Posthuma, 2010). According to Mann another problem is older people don’t have the energy and don’t work as hard as younger workers. Employers want the most out of their employees and want to make sure they can profit of them. Employers might feel that this energy is more beneficial to the company then the senior’s experience. Although there is no direct correlation to age and work performance it is still a constant thought in the mind of those hiring (Posthuma, 2010). Lastly, financial worries can play a huge part in whether an employer hires a young person or a senior. Some employers don’t feel like they need to pay high salaries to seniors with experience, when they can pay a younger person who is willing to learn and be paid less. Also the cost of health and retirement benefits can be a factor into whether they feel like hiring a senior. (Lawyers, 2012) All these factors play a role into why age discrimination in the workplace exists. None of which can be proven as an overall statistical fact, these stereotypes and financial and performance worries are preventing capable people from getting jobs that they need.
            Acknowledgment of the problem and its impact is the first step in fixing this brand of discrimination. Age discrimination continues to plague our seniors and prevents them from attaining a stable job. That is not to say that it can’t be fixed but we, as a society must get over the constant stereotypes and worries that can affect our decision-making. Identifying and attempting to fix these issues are essential in protecting the future and ourselves.



Burnett, C. (2012, March 8). Age discrimination a growing issue in a difficult economy. Retrieved from

Hannon, K. (2012, June 21). Fighting age discrimination: New aarp survey. Retrieved from

Lawyers. (2012). Battling age discrimination . Retrieved from

Mann, T. (2012). Reasons for age discrimination. Retrieved from

McDowell, R. (2012). The effects of age discrimination. Retrieved from

Posthuma, R. (2010, February). Age stereotypes in the workplace. Retrieved from

Span, P. (2012, January 12). Age discrimination takes its toll. Retrieved from

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (2011). Charge statistics. Retrieved from

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