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A striking pattern has emerged for working women over the age of 50, according to the findings of a recent study conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER).1

That pattern indicates that, as women age, they are more likely to become the targets of workplace age discrimination.

The number of new age-bias claims in 2008 rose by 29% from 2007, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.2

Workplace Age Discrimination against Women: A Closer Look at the Study

Women Shown Door Over Age | Los Angeles Age Discrimination Attorney

Women Being Shown the Door Over Old Age

Looking to evaluate the nature and scope of age discrimination against working women, NBER researchers developed more than 40,000 mock applications for jobs in 12 cities.

These applications were crafted to apply for positions in one of four categories:

  • Office administration jobs
  • Retail sales positions
  • Security guard jobs
  • Janitorial positions.

For each of these categories, mock applications were developed for both  male and female applicants of different ages, with the categories being:

  • Young applicants, who ranged in age from 29 to 31 years old
  • Middle-aged applicants, who ranged in age from 49 to 51 years old
  • Elderly applicants, who ranged in age from 64 to 66 years old.

After sending out these applications and analyzing employers’ responses, researchers found that elderly females were less likely to be called back than men in the same age category.

Additionally, the findings indicated that:

  • For the jobs in the office administration, retail sales, and security industries, hiring managers were less likely to call back applicants in the elderly category.
  • Overall, the elderly category saw a 35 percent lower callback rate than those associated with the young and middle-aged categories.

Proving Workplace Age Discrimination: What You Can Do

While the findings of the NBER study strongly suggest that women are very likely to come up against workplace age discrimination as they get older, proving when this type of discrimination has occurred can be challenging. After all, employers will not necessarily cite a female worker’s age when overlooking them for a job, promotion, etc. – or when demoting or firing them.

Although that can be disconcerting to consider, the good news is that there are some steps (listed below) that can be taken to document workplace age discrimination – and taking these steps can be very helpful to proving discrimination when it’s time to hold an employer accountable for violating your rights:

  • Keep a journal, and record any incident of age discrimination. Be sure to note the date of each occurrence, as well as who was involved.
  • Keep a copy of any and all performance reviews.
  • Ask for an exit interview and reason for separation if you are let go.
  • Have a copy of your employment contract on hand, as well as your journal (and any other records you have been keeping), when it’s time to consult an attorney and find out more about your options for justice.

Contact a Los Angeles Age Discrimination Attorney at Moon & Yang 

Have you been the target of workplace age discrimination? If so, you can turn to an experienced Los Angeles age discrimination attorney at Moon & Yang for aggressive, effective legal advocacy. Contact us today by calling (213) 232-3128 or by emailing us using the contact form on this page.


1NBER study

2“Older Women Are Being Forced Out of the Workforce” published in Harvard Business Review, March 2016.

3“Is It Harder for Older Workers to Find Jobs? New and Improved Evidence from a Field Experiment” published in the National Bureau of Economic Research, October 2015.

Categories: Age Discrimination, Sex/Gender Discrimination, Wrongful Termination