Age Discrimination and Technical Writers


Written by Angel Candelario

 

Senior with Laptop

If you are a worker over 40 you may have experienced age discrimination or know someone who has. Technical communicators are not an exception especially that many of our fellow peers are not independent consultants and prefer to work for an employer.

In the next few minutes, we’re going to look at three crucial topics you MUST know about age discrimination. First, we’re going to talk about the age discrimination in the United States. Next, we’re going to discuss about how to file a discrimination claim. Finally, we’re going to finish up by talking about how to overcome age discrimination.

Age discrimination involves unfair treatment in recruitment, promotions, or granting of privileges for people who are age 40 or older. There are several federal laws and regulations in the United States related to age discrimination, including the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The ADEA applies to employers with 20 or more employees, including state and local governments. It also applies to employment agencies and labor organizations, as well as to the federal government

Age discrimination is a moral issue as well as a personal one for everyone who are age 40 or older. Some hire managers and recruiters consider that the level of compensation for age 40 or older is typically higher than the salaries younger people seek, energy level is presumed to be less than that of a 20’s year-old among other assumptions.  Therefore, there is a fine line as it relates to distinguish between a business decisions and prejudice. This greatly limits the chances of any company stay competitive, due to bad decisions and lawsuits due to age discrimination.

If you think that you’ve been discriminated against, here are some ideas for dealing with age discrimination in the workplace:

  1. You are entitling to filing a charge of age discrimination through the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). For instructions on how to filing a charge of discrimination go to the following link: http://www.eeoc.gov/employees/charge.cfm
  2. You may also file a lawsuit in federal court, but you must first exhaust other possible means for a remedy, like filing a charge of discrimination trough EEOC. Sometimes, due to their volume of cases, they cannot adequately investigate every case, and they will issue a “right to sue letter.” This letter is a prerequisite for filing a lawsuit in federal court.

Here are some tips on how to overcome age discrimination:

Resume –  limit your experience in your resume up to 15 years. List your other experience without dates in an Expertise or Other Experience category.

Improve your computer skills –  with few exceptions, many jobs require a fundamental working knowledge of computer skills. Microsoft Office, Adobe, MadCap Flare software among other are common tools in our industry.  Learn how to perform internet research on Google and similar sites. GCF LearnFree.org it’s a great site to learn several technological skills.

http://www.gcflearnfree.org/

Appearance – Stay fit for life, not just for an interview. Don’t get concerned about being overdressed. Even in today’s corporate culture, looking sharp and professional is still important.

Consider a consultancy career – Why not? You will never discriminate against yourself.

For more information please visit the following link:

AARP – Age Discrimination; What Employees need to know

http://assets.aarp.org/www.aarp.org_/articles/money/employers/age_discrimination.pdf

Angel Candelario

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9 thoughts on “Age Discrimination and Technical Writers

  1. My experience is that employers want technically skilled, high energy, open minded technical writers. I am 54, and most of my customers are under 35. They don’t care about my age.

  2. The only time I find age (57) an issue is at an initial interview with an agency. Where a twenty-something (younger than my children) tries to discuss my career path. I just smile and nod along with them.

  3. I was a senior-level technical writer in a large, well-known pharmaceutical company for 9 years (2 years as a consultant; 5 years as an employee).

    My company merged with another large, well-known pharma. When mergers happen, employees get cut. They terminated 18 of us in one department. Of the 18, one person volunteered to be separated from the company. The remaining 17 of us were ALL over 40, ranging in age from 42 to 65. While it would be tantalizing to file an age discrimination lawsuit, I’m told they are really tough to prove AND I didn’t want to jeopardize my termination package, which was generous. So, I signed a document agreeing not to sue. I thought it more prudent to take the money and move on. And, so I did.

    Subsequently, I sent in my resume to several recruiters for contract jobs and most of them called within minutes of me sending it in. I’m a professional resume writer and know how to look good on paper. I omitted the years I received degrees (BS, MS, Ph.D.) I also don’t look my age, I’m told frequently. Of those who agreed with my hourly rate, I didn’t get callbacks. I googled myself and what popped up was a list of my name at different (find-a-person) websites, along with my age. Egad. What occurred to me is that with a minimum of effort, they were able to learn my age (65 and 66). Is it possible the recruiters did not want to present someone they perceived as an “old” person to their clients?

    The next adventure has been to contact the websites that listed me along with my age and request they remove me. That does work.

    • I really appreciate the blog post and the information provided. Thanks! The comments have been helpful as well. I am a 64-year-old tech editor and am hoping to work part-time after I retire. Looks like I’d be well served to do that as a consultant.

  4. I encountered blatant age discrimination from a high tech company. I had all the right skill sets and the right tech background. They hired someone younger, less experienced, with no management background, and no tech background. I was told in the interview that I couldn’t possibly know how to do any of the things on my resume. It was demeaning and horrible experience.

  5. At 60 this has only begun to seem like a problem. When I first started working, I couldn’t get a job because I didn’t have enough experience. Now I constantly get the question, “How long before you retire?”

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