There are plenty of reasons to continue working well into your 60s. Maybe you want to boost your retirement savings so you're more comfortable during your golden years. Or maybe you just plain love what you do, and want to keep at it for as long as you're physically able.
But what happens when your age suddenly becomes a point of contention -- and disrespect -- in the workplace? It's not unheard of for older workers to get passed over for promotions, lose out on high-profile projects, or be treated poorly in general by virtue of their age alone.
Age discrimination, or ageism, is a big problem in today's workforce. In fact, 33% of workers aged 65 and older say they've fallen victim to it, according to a recent survey conducted by senior-living community Provision Living. Not only that, but 36% of workers 65 and over say they fear losing their jobs solely because of their age.
If you've been hurt by age discrimination, or fear that your job is on the line because of it, you shouldn't hesitate to fight back. Not only is ageism morally wrong, but it happens to be illegal, and you don't have to take it lying down.
What to do when ageism strikes
Age discrimination can take different forms. It can mean younger colleagues or managers commenting on your age, or it can mean losing out on promotions, raises, or other forms of career advancement because you're deemed "too old" to be worthy of them.
If you're a victim of age discrimination, you should know that you do have recourse. But to build a case, be sure to keep a detailed record of the times you're treated poorly or unfairly because of your age. Write down the date and people involved in each incident, and if there are witnesses around who can back up your claims, jot down their names and contact details if you don't have that information already.
Once a couple of incidents occur, take that information to your manager -- unless he or she is the problem, in which case you'll want to go directly to your human resources department. Chances are, your company will intervene and nip the problem in the bud, if only to avoid a lawsuit. But if no action is taken, your next step is to take the data you've gathered and file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Prevent ageism from happening to you
Though age discrimination is never acceptable, there are a few things you can do to keep it from happening in the first place. First, keep your age to yourself; it's nobody's business. Next, make sure to stay current on your job skills, as well as general industry trends. If you lag noticeably in either, your colleagues might use that as a reason to make derogatory comments about you, or your manager might use it as a reason to penalize you professionally. Finally, be sure to keep up with technology, even if that means stepping outside your comfort zone.
You shouldn't have to put up with age discrimination, or fear that your year of birth will be the reason you lose your job later in life. If ageism strikes at your workplace, stand up for yourself immediately. If you let it be known that you won't be a victim, you might eliminate the problem before it truly escalates.