Discrimination against employees is one of the major challenges that are faced in organizations. Discrimination has been carried out on different fronts such as race, sex and age. Age discrimination has been ignored for a long time and therefore little has been written about it. The fact that they have been ignored most of the times does not mean that they are less rampant in many organizations that exist today. The problem with age discrimination is that, nearly every person working in an organization has the risk of facing it at one point in life (Gregory 122).
Age discrimination involves discriminating against people in terms of the employment opportunities and the allowances available at the work place basing on their age. This therefore results in older people becoming less preferred for certain tasks in an organization and hence fail to qualify for the financial benefits that are offered by the organizations they work for. This has, further, seen the young employees at the workplace receive preferential treatment (Todd 14).
Age discrimination has over time attracted divergent arguments and views about the ultimate value it has on the general performance of the work force in any given organization. This has consequently resulted in two groups of people who subscribe to different schools of thought by either showing support for the discrimination at the workplace or opposing the age discrimination at the workplace. In this paper both views are analyzed in detail by use of the reasons quoted by each of the two sides in support of their respective grounds. Finally, there is a conclusion in which a personal opinion is stated and is supported by several facts (Gregory 137).
Arguments against Age Discrimination
The group that opposes age discrimination argues that when it comes to the capability at the workplace there might be no difference between the elderly and the young. The group therefore argues that discriminate treatment of any person on the basis of his/her age is as unfair and unethical as is doing that basing on the person’s religion or race since age is not and has never been an indicator that could be used to determine the potential or ability of any particular person (Todd 57).
They further argue that such discrimination would definitely be in contradiction with the principles of the workplace that demand each and every person to face equal treatment at the place of work. The principles of non-discrimination of the employees at the work place form the fundamentals of the human rights which are also possessed by the elderly employees (Levine 134). The employers should make decisions basing on the actual ability of the employees without necessarily basing it on the age of the workers. For instance when an elderly employee develops less concentration at the work place or weaker manual strength to carry out the various activities, then the preference for another younger worker to replace the elderly should be based purely on the capability but not the age (Macnicol 145).
Arguments for Age Discrimination
The group with this stand argues that there is a big difference between the theoretical approach and the realistic approach when it comes to the hiring of people to perform certain duties, the group argues that in as much as hiring should be done basing on the ability of the individual, it, in some instances, becomes difficult to test the abilities of the employees. This therefore forces the potential employers to put in place certain conditions such as age limit to be used as proxy in the selection process. They argue that certain abilities do not exist among people of a given age generally and hence that age limit could be used to eliminate the potentially incapable persons from the bulk of the prospective employees. They say this is similar to the use of sports as an indicator in that the person who participates in them will most likely work successfully in an organization that requires teamwork among the employees or the notion that a person who leads others successfully in extra-curricular activities will most definitely become a good manager if given a chance (Gregory 108).
They argue that age is widely known to affect certain aspects of a person that are crucial in the performance ability of a person. Qualities such as concentration, energy and memory tend to fade or reduce as one grows old. With this as the case it then becomes necessary for the employer to take into consideration the efficiency that would be achieved in performing certain activities by individuals of a given age for this may be the very determinant of the organization’s success. For example, an organization that specializes in the production of commodities used in fashion design may need the salespersons to possess certain levels of vitality and energy so as to reach more potential customers or clients. Similarly in the control of air traffic, the controllers should have very high fitness and concentration levels to successfully carry out their tasks. Such concentration may not be found in the elderly and hence their employment could jeopardize the safety of the landing or leaving aircraft. In such situations, they argue, age discrimination should be applied (Todd 98).
I agree with those who oppose the discrimination of the employees on the basis of age for it may result in disposing off the relevant skills that might contribute uniquely to the success of a given organization. I believe that the discriminatory practices employed by employers are detrimental to the economy of the country regardless of the specific gains an organization might get by practicing age discrimination. By discriminating against the elderly the productivity of a country is reduced as a result of the jobs being matched to the workers inefficiently. This then results in talents being wasted (Levine 27).
When the elderly workers are allowed to participate in the activities at the workplace there is a tendency of jobs to be matched correctly with the workers which results in an increased employment rate. A higher employment rate therefore is advantageous to the government for it reduces what the government would spend while catering for the needs of the retired elderly persons (Macnicol 268). In addition, the participation of people in all age groups results in the development of competition among the workers an effect that stimulates the labor markets in the long run. It is an argument in fallacy to believe that the economy consists of a limited number of jobs which would not be accessible by the younger people or which would force the wages to be pushed down (Levine 114). Taking this into consideration, the discrimination against people on the basis of their age should not be supported and should therefore be made illegal.
Gregory, Raymond. Age Discrimination in the American Workplace: Old at a Young Age. New York: Rutgers University Press, 2001. Print.
Levine, Martin. Age Discrimination and the Mandatory Retirement Controversy. Maryland: John Hopkins University, 1998. Print.
Macnicol, John. Age Discrimination: An Historical and Contemporary Analysis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006. Print.
Todd, Nelson. Ageism: Stereotyping and Prejudice against Older Persons. New York: Bradford Books, 2004. Print.