August 16, 2018 11:14 am

We all know that age discrimination is against the law. We also know that law or no law, there are still employers who discriminate on the basis of age. For those of you who have experienced—or will experience—age discrimination first-hand, let me offer you some advice.


Age Discrimination and Litigation

The average age of our ExecuNet membership is 50. So we get lots of war stories from people who feel they were denied an employment opportunity because of their age. What, they often ask, should I do? This is an extremely complicated question. Suing is certainly one option. You may recall that a few years ago, there was a fair amount of press given to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that made it easier for people to file age discrimination lawsuits. I’m all for anything that helps victims of age discrimination get justice.


But I also tell members to consider that suing comes with a price. Litigation is costly and time-consuming —even if you’re fortunate enough to win your case. But that’s hardly groundbreaking news. What victims of age discrimination often overlook is the lasting damage suing can do to their reputation. Once the dust settles, you still need to go to work somewhere. And the fact of the matter is that many organizations are wary of hiring individuals that have sued their previous employer. How do I know this person won’t sue me next, is the common fear. This shunning of age discrimination plaintiffs is clearly wrong; but it’s a fact of life.


Don’t get me wrong. I am in no way suggesting that filing an age discrimination lawsuit is a bad idea or that age discrimination is something you must accept. What I am suggesting is that before you file your lawsuit, consider how going the litigation route will affect your future prospects. Gaining vindication against a former employer that did you wrong can be sweet. But to the extent it scares off future employers, it may be the wrong choice for you and your family.