Even as you get older, if you still have the ability to perform good work for an employer, your bosses and co-workers should treat you with the respect and dignity that is due any worker in your position.

Age discrimination, like other forms of discrimination, is not allowed under federal law. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission explains how the federal government defines age discrimination and what constitutes mistreatment of older workers.

Defining age discrimination

As explained by the EEOC, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act does not permit employers to discriminate against workers who are 40 years old or older. This law forbids various forms of mistreatment toward an older worker. For instance, an employer cannot refuse to hire you strictly due to your age. For the same reason, a workplace cannot fire you simply because you are 40 years old or older.

The ADEA also forbids various punitive actions an employer may take against you because of your older age. You might be up for a promotion, but instead, your boss promotes someone younger than yourself who does not appear qualified for the position. Your employer also cannot deny you benefits, refuse to give you job assignments, reduce your pay or deny you proper job training on account of age.

Explaining workplace harassment

Even if a workplace does not deny you benefits or assignments, you might find that supervisors or fellow workers have contempt for you because of your age. Some negative behavior takes the form of teasing or an occasional offhand comment. While the law does not criminalize such behavior, if a workplace becomes consistently hostile towards you, you may have a case of harassment against your workplace.