How Age-Bigot Employers Discriminate and Get Away With It

old_man_lamenting.pngI am currently working with an older woman consultant who keeps hoping for a “permanent” job. There is no such thing, of course. She really just wants a job with an indefinite end. I know the feeling. When you are a consultant you are always searching around for the next gig. Contract jobs rarely last more than 2 or 3 months.

My friend doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of getting a “perm job” in Silicon Valley, unless she wants to apply at McDonald’s or become a greeter at Walmart. High tech corporations in Silicon Valley avoid older workers at all costs. I have the same problem. In spite of several interviews for positions for which I was highly qualified, I haven’t been hired either.

Why Do Employers Fear Older Workers?

Why do employers fear older workers? I really don’t know if there is an economic or legal reason for it or if it’s simply a form of bigotry (“you’re different than me so I don’t want to work with you”). Are they afraid we’ll get sick more than other employees? Are they afraid that, since we are a protected class of people, we are more likely to sue or make EEOC complaints? Do they fear that our benefits packages will cost immense amounts of money? Do they expect a younger person will work for them for a longer period of time before a replacement must be sought? (What, in Silicon Valley, where job turnover is already high? Ha!) What’s really going on here?

How Age-Bigots Avoid the Issue

I suspect that behind every age bigot there is an attorney telling him how not to get sued. Here are some possible scenarios that I have inferred from the age bigots who interviewed me.

  1. At the conclusion of the interview the age-bigot will give you his business card and tell you to call him if you have any questions. He will be totally non-committal about your chances of getting the job.
  2. You will never hear from the interviewer or his company again. You won’t get the standard form rejection letter, you won’t get anything. That’s because if they don’t send the letter, then technically you haven’t been rejected. What are they going to say if they do? That you’re not qualified in spite of 30 years of impressive experience? No letter means less evidence to use against them in court.
  3. If the interview was set up by a search firm, you will never hear from the recruiter again, either. There will be no explanation or feedback as to why you weren’t hired. They could easily make some excuse, but excuses can be checked out. If there is no feedback at all, the recruiter and employer won’t be put in a position of having to lie about it. If they lied, it could prove embarrassing if they have to explain it later on the witness stand.

How Decrepit Are You, Really?

Well find out what other people have accomplished at your age.

What have people my age accomplished? Well, a few small things.

Physician, author and running enthusiast George Sheehan ran his fastest Boston marathon ever.

James Parkinson, an English surgeon and paleontologist, described Parkinson’s disease.

J.R.R. Tolkien published the first volume of his fantasy series, Lord of the Rings.

Clergyman and writer Jonathan Swift wrote A Modest Proposal, possibly the best satire ever written in English.

John Dryden undertook the enormous task of translating the entire works of Virgil into English verse.

Countess Rosa Branicka, a wealthy Polish noble, performed breast cancer surgery on herself and lived to be 82.

Elizabeth Kingsley created the double-crostic puzzle.

Danny DeVito, actor, is still going strong in the entertainment world.

Rod Stewart, former Rock star, recorded four albums of the most beloved love songs of the western world – from what is known as “the American Songbook.” They were a smash hit.

What Did Other People Accomplish at Your Age?

You can find out by going to this web page, “Things Other People Accomplished When They Were Your Age.

It won’t get you a job but it may make you feel better.

As for me, I will stick with contracting and maybe form my own consulting company.


4 responses to “How Age-Bigot Employers Discriminate and Get Away With It

  1. Don’t feel bad. I got layed off from a company this week simply because they found someone desperate enough to work for less money.
    But there are a lot of desperate people here in Nevada. If the guy needed it worse than me, he is welcome to the job. T.

  2. I live in Ohio, an at-will employment state. The law prohibits an employer from firing or refusing to hire on the basis of age. They can, however, fire you for any or for no reason. Also they can refuse to hire for any reason or no reason. So, it does not matter. If they do not like you because you are old they can say there was some other reason or they can just say they did not like something not protected by the law.

    Fun stuff, no?

  3. Randy, yes it is very difficult to prove age bias. Here in Silicon Valley it is rampant and everyone knows it, but you can’t do anything about it. Even if you look young, they can look up your age on the internet (like at

  4. Pingback: Business » How Age-Bigot Employers Discriminate and Get Away With It A Journey …

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