Americans in their 40s are generally aware that age discrimination is common in the workplace, but many don't realize that they are included in federal protections.
A recent AARP survey found that 69% of workers ages 40–49 believe age discrimination is very or somewhat common in the workplace. Indeed, 20% have witnessed age discrimination and around half (48%) have heard stories of others’ experiences with it in the workplace. Seven percent say they have even experienced discrimination themselves.
However, while 69% of Americans ages 40–49 know that federal age discrimination laws are in place, just 9% knew that those protections apply beginning at age 40. This lack of knowledge may help explain why more than a third of these workers say that they would be unlikely to report age discrimination if they experienced it.
Despite efforts to level the playing field for workers regardless of age, the American employment landscape continues to present challenges to job applicants later in life.
About half of those surveyed reported looking for work in the past two years. Notably, a sizable 70% of job seekers were asked for age-related information, such as birth date or year of graduation, during the application or interview process, the poll showed.
The survey of 2,914 U.S. adults ages 25 and older who are working or looking for work was conducted between November 25 and December 17, 2019 using the NORC AmeriSpeak panel. The data are weighted to the Current Population Survey.
Perron, Rebecca, and G. Oscar Anderson. Older Workers Aware of Age Discrimination But Not Their Rights. Washington, DC: AARP Research, April 2020. https://doi.org/10.26419/res.00382.001