As many older job applicants know, it can be extremely tough for an older job applicant to find a good job. Although age discrimination during the hiring process is illegal, it occurs every day in the United States. Evidence shows that age discrimination is the worst for older, unemployed women. Several studies show that older men seem to face less age discrimination than older women.

Two recently published (but not yet peer-reviewed) studies from the National Bureau of Economic Research conducted large-scale field experiments known as resume correspondence studies to test for discrimination in the job market. In resume correspondence studies, researchers send out many fake resumes which are identical except for a few characteristics like the year of graduation and the applicant’s name. They then look at which fake applicants get called for interviews. If the older applicants have a lower callback rate than younger applicants, the researchers can infer that age discrimination is in play.

One of the recently-published studies involved 40,000 fake resumes. Resumes with women’s names were submitted for two types of positions: administrative and sales. Men’s resumes were sent for jobs in retail sales, janitorial positions, and security guard positions. Among all occupations, the study found lower callback rates for women ages 64 to 66 (12 percent) than for women ages 29 to 31 (19 percent). Older men did not have lower callback rates than younger men, except for the janitorial jobs. The study’s authors speculated that a perceived reduction in stamina could be one reason.

One admitted problem with the study is the small number of occupations that it targeted. In order to be able to submit the large number of fake resumes, researchers used some job search websites that normally have advertisements for lower-skilled positions. If a wider array of job types are studied, the age discrimination issue may go away.

The second recently published study also found age discrimination against older women was prevalent in the job market. In the second study, the authors sent out 12,000 fake resumes. All of the fake applicants were women with college degrees. In the study, women ages 35 to 37 and 40 to 42 received callbacks 11 to 12 percent of the time, but women ages 55 to 59 only received callbacks 9 percent of the time.

Although age discrimination in the workplace clearly exists, in many cases it can be tough to do anything about. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act is a federal law that forbids age discrimination against people who are age 40 or older. In addition, California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act protects people over the age of 40 from discrimination and harassment in employment because of age.

Even though there are laws in place against age discrimination, it still occurs on a regular basis. In many cases, it can be tough to prove – maybe you weren’t hired because you were older, or maybe there were many more qualified applicants. In order to prove age discrimination occurred, normally an employee must be able to prove a systematic pattern of discrimination in the company. For example, if an employer was forced to lay off 10 percent of the workforce because of economic problems, but all or a vast majority of those laid off were over the age of 55, it’s likely that a persuasive case could be made that age discrimination occurred. However, if one person was laid off who was over the age of 55, and his or her work record was not the best, it may be hard to prove that age discrimination was to blame.

If you believe that you have been discriminated against in the workplace because of your age, you should consult with an attorney. At Liberty Law, Micha Star Liberty and Seth I. Rosenberg believe that no employee should be discriminated against because of age. Call Micha Star Liberty, Oakland age discrimination attorney or Seth I. Rosenberg at 510-645-1000 or 415-896-1000 to schedule a free consultation or to learn more about your legal rights.

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