Challenging Stereotypes About Older Workers
It is against the law for employers to discriminate against older workers. Specifically, in California, the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibits employers from discriminating against people who are 40 years or older. But while there are laws in place that prohibit employers from discriminating against older workers, older workers continue to be adversely affected by age-related stereotypes. Older workers may be prematurely exiting the workforce because of unfair assumptions about their abilities. Some may be missing employment opportunities due to stereotypes about them. It is essential that we debunk the stereotypes about older workers. This article debunks six of the most prevalent stereotypes about older workers.
Stereotype #1: Older Workers are Less Motivated
One of the most prevalent stereotypes about older workers is that they are less motivated than younger workers. Some people believe older workers have less ambitious career goals. Older workers are stereotyped as putting less effort into their jobs. One particular research study found that the stereotype that older workers are less motivated than younger workers was inconsistent with the cumulated research evidence. So, an older worker can be just as motivated as a younger worker. Some older workers are even more motivated than younger workers.
Stereotype #2: Older Workers are Not Willing and Cannot Learn New Things
Another common stereotype about older workers is that they are not willing and cannot learn new things. According to research, this is not true. Research has found that older workers are as willing and capable of learning new things as younger workers. Older workers are just as interested in learning new skills as their younger peers.
Stereotype #3: Older Workers are Less Productive
Taking into account that workers are retiring later than before, it is evident that it is not true that older workers are less productive than younger workers. Indeed, cognitive and physical abilities tend to decline as a person ages, but usually, before it gets to a point where someone is unproductive, they will have already retired. The truth is that older people in the workforce can be just as effective as young people.
Stereotype #4: Older Workers are Less Willing and Able to Change
It is also widely assumed that older workers are less willing and able to change. A commonly held stereotype is that older workers are less adaptable to technological change. Research has found that this negative stereotype is not justifiable. Older workers are just as willing and able to change as younger workers.
Stereotype #5: Older Workers Experience Greater Work-Family Life Imbalance
The fifth stereotype is that older workers dedicate more time and energy to their families than work. This stereotype may originate from the belief that older workers are more family-oriented than younger workers. According to research, it is not true that older workers experience greater work-family life imbalance. An older worker with a family is capable of dedicating enough time to their work.
Stereotype #6: Older Workers are Overqualified
One stereotype that results in older workers missing employment opportunities is that older workers are “overqualified.” Often, employers cannot justify why they think a job applicant is overqualified. Sometimes, employers use the term “overqualified” as code for “too old,” which can be considered age discrimination.
Contact a California Employment Lawyer
If you believe you or someone you know has been a victim of age discrimination, contact a California employment lawyer near you.