- A 28-year-old white man is three times more likely to secure a job interview than a 50-year-old black woman and two times more likely to do so than a 50-year-old white woman, according to a new report on age discrimination in the U.K. from researchers at Anglia Ruskin University. The researchers sent in fake applications that included the fictional job seekers' age and ethnic background to 811 sales and service jobs in England.
- Young white men's applications were: 1.8 times more likely to get interviews than applications from 50-year-old white men; 2.3 times more likely to be selected than those of 50-year-old white women; and 2.6 times more likely to be selected than 50-year-old black men's applications.
- The research team also found pay-based ageism and racial discrimination against the fictional job seekers. Young men were interviewed for jobs paying 13% more than those for which older men were interviewed. Fifty-year-old women were interviewed for jobs paying 14% less than the positions for which young, white men interviewed. Fifty-year-old black men's potential positions paid about $2,876 (2,572 euros) less than young, white men's and 50-year-old black women paid about $3,283 less.
This research details the state of ageism in the U.K., but it may prompt U.S. employers to consider their own treatment of older workers. After all, age discrimination is an open secret in the workplace, an expert previously told HR Dive, making one of the researcher's conclusions about her research particularly relevant to American employers. “Despite the growing participation of older workers in the labour market, many employers are prejudiced against older workers," Anglia Ruskin Senior Lecturer Anna Paraskevopoulou said in a news release. "These results originate from stereotypical beliefs that the physical strengths and job performance decline with age, and earlier among women than men. They are also in line with general and persistent racial prejudices."
\Court activity in the U.S. reveals the pervasive nature of age discrimination. CareFusion, a Chicago-based health products company, ran a job ad for a senior counsel with less than seven years of experience. The company denied 58-year-old applicant Dale Kleber an interview and hired a 29-year-old candidate with less experience. Kleber sued the company for age discrimination, but in January, the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals based in Chicago ruled 8-4 that the ADEA didn't protect older jobseekers, only those currently employed. AARP asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the lower court's ruling.
Hiring discrimination based on race remains prevalent, as well. A staffing company was sued in 2018 for abiding by its client company to not hire African Americans — regardless of their age or qualifications. In 2017, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued Diversified Maintenance Systems, LLC, because its district managers instructed local managers to not hire African Americans.
Employment laws are unequivocal in their prohibiting ageism, racism and gender-based bias within the workplace. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act protects workers aged 40 and older from being denied a job, promotion or other adverse employment action based solely on age. And Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act similarly protects workers against discrimination based on race, color, gender, religion and national origin.