25+ Alarming Age Discrimination Statistics [2023]

By Chris Kolmar
Feb. 9, 2023
Fact Checked
Cite This Webpage Zippia. "25+ Alarming Age Discrimination Statistics [2023]" Zippia.com. Feb. 9, 2023, https://www.zippia.com/advice/age-discrimination-statistics/

Research Summary. Despite federal and state laws that protect older workers against age discrimination and harassment, ageism in the workplace remains prevalent. The fact is that even if older workers face many stereotypes about retirement and other issues, they are just as successful and eager to work as their younger counterparts.

And while many some employers believe outdated and inaccurate stereotypes, data indicate that older workers are actually more productive, more educated, and more loyal than younger workers. After extensive research, our data analysis team concluded:

  • 67% of workers aged 40-65 plan to continue to work after they turn 66.

  • Between 2011 and 2021, 207,315 U.S. workers filed age discrimination claims with the EEOC.

  • In 2021 alone, there were 12,965 age discrimination charges filed with the EEOC.

  • Still, over 50% of coworkers who witnessed instances of age discrimination did not report it.

  • While age discrimination is prominent across industries, as many as 70% of older workers in the technology industry report experiencing or witnessing ageism.

  • Between 2020 and 2021, age discrimination charges accounted for 21% of all charges filed with the EEOC.

  • Although older adults are brought in for interviews at a rate similar to younger applicants, older workers are offered jobs 40% less frequently than younger candidates with similar skills.

67% of workers aged 40-65 plan to work after they turn 66

What Is Age Discrimination?

Age discrimination in the workplace means treating an applicant or employee less favorably because of their age.

Ageism can take many forms, including prejudicial attitudes, discriminatory acts, and institutional policies and practices. And it’s widespread: one multi-country study found that one in every two people held moderately or highly ageist attitudes.

Some of the most common workplace stereotypes related to people over the age of 50 include that they’re:

  • Difficult to manage;

  • Resistant to change;

  • Technophobic;

  • Less innovative.

But like all stereotypes, ageism is informed by negative—and typically inaccurate—assumptions and beliefs about aging and ability, even though today’s older workers are more diverse and more educated than previous generations.

It’s also been scientifically shown that age does not correlate with ability, intellectual function, performance, creativity, interest, or overall performance. What’s more, older workers do not cost significantly more than younger workers, and age-diverse teams are often more productive, improve organizational performance, and reduce employee turnover.

Ageism And Age Discrimination Statistics

  1. People are working longer today than their parents and grandparents did.

    Common reasons include improved health, longer life expectancy, later eligibility for Social Security benefits, and the demise of traditional pensions.

  2. 67% of workers aged 40-65 plan to continue to work after they turn 66.

    As of February 2019, over 20% of Americans aged 65 or older were working or looking for work. This is twice the number from 1985. Even in the short term, the number of active workers aged between 65 and 75+ is projected to grow by 75% through 2024.

    Similarly, the share of workers aged 55 and older has doubled in the past quarter-century, which is potentially positive since workers 50+ have the highest levels of engagement and experience in the workplace.

    Comparatively, the workers between the ages of 25 and 54 are only expected to grow by 2%.

    Despite these numbers, 33% of full-time employees aged 45 or older feel they could lose their job within the next year due to their age. And perhaps for a good reason: about half of full-time workers between the ages of 50 and 54 will lose their jobs involuntarily.

  3. Except for South Dakota, every U.S. state has a law prohibiting age discrimination in the workplace.

    Forty-three of these states apply the same standards and damages to ageism cases as other state law discrimination cases. Thirty-two state laws provide for either compensatory and punitive damages, and 21 states allow both.

    Given this, most older workers litigate their age-discrimination cases under state law or both state and federal law.

  4. 60% of older employees have seen or experienced workplace age discrimination. Between 90% and 95% of those say it is common.

    Almost 25% of employees aged 45 and older have been subjected to negative comments about their age from supervisors or coworkers.

  5. Older workers typically remain on the job longer, which helps provide employers with more stability and a greater return on investment.

    In contrast, Millennials leave their employers, on average, after three years.

  6. Age-based resignations leave older employees feeling isolated, disrespected, and fearing for their future.

    Not only does age discrimination make individuals feel older than their chronological age, but it also:

    • Reduces physical and mental health;

    • Shortens life span;

    • Increases social isolation and loneliness;

    • Reduces financial security;

    • Decreases quality of life;

    • Increases instances of depression (as many as 6.3 million global depression cases are attributed to ageism);

    • Can lead to premature death.

    Furthermore, ageism costs $63 billion per year in excess costs related to the eight most expensive health conditions.

  7. In 2018, ageist beliefs and actions cost the U.S. economy an estimated $850 billion.

    Age discrimination also has significant monetary costs for employers.

    Since 1967, more than $91 million has been recovered in ageism-related lawsuits

    To date, the most expensive age discrimination lawsuits have cost companies between $2.85 million and $250 million.

  8. On average, 59% of workers who are white report experiencing age discrimination at work.

    Comparatively, 77% of African Americans/Blacks report experiencing age discrimination at work, dropping to 61% for Hispanics/Latinos.

    Between 1990 and 2017, the percentages of charges alleging age discrimination doubled for Blacks and Asians,

  9. The average median employee age at 17 top tech companies is 32

    For Google the average median age is 29.

    But tech industry ageism doesn’t stop with lower-level employees, as 37% of founders believe startup investors bias against them based on age.

  10. In 1990, almost twice as many ADEA charges were filed by men than women, a trend that reversed in 2010.

    Nearly 75% of women notice ageism in the workplace, although this number drops to 60% of men.

    And while older women experience more age discrimination in hiring than men

  11. Between 2011-2021, the number of age discrimination charges filed with the EEOC decreased by 44.75%.

    Within the past decade, the number of age discrimination charges filed with the EEOC fell from over 23,400 in 2011, to just under 13,000 in 2021. That means the number of age discrimination cases has nearly halved.

    However, it is worth noting that the percentage of age discrimination charges filed compared to other types of discrimination has remained at a steady 20-25% for the past 20 years, despite the steady decline in the number of charges within the past decade.

  12. Older applicants—those 64 to 66 years of age—experience more age discrimination than middle-age applicants aged 49 to 51.

    Comparatively, people are half as likely to experience age discrimination when they are 25 or younger.

    In this same vein, those over 45 are hired less than colleagues in their twenties. They’re also frequently not supported enough to learn and grow, leading to management passing them over for promotions and excluding them from company activities.

  13. Older workers experience longer unemployment stints and larger pay cuts than other age groups.

    If an older worker loses their job, they’ll likely experience the most prolonged unemployment period of their careers.

    Furthermore, some reports indicate that half of all older workers are prematurely pushed out of longtime jobs, and 90% never earn as much again.

    Together, the process often negatively impacts the individual’s savings and general personal finances across both the short and long-term.

  14. Only 8% of companies have diversity hiring strategies in place.

    While older adults are brought in for interviews at a rate similar to younger applicants, older workers are offered jobs 40% less frequently than younger candidates with similar skills.

    One way to help combat the problem is to include age-diverse photos, graphics, and content on a company’s website, which signals to prospective employees that the company is committed to attracting a multi-generational workforce.

    Another method is to avoid potentially discouraging ageist language in job descriptions, such as “tech-savvy” and “digital native.”

  15. Over 50% of coworkers who witnessed instances of age discrimination did not report it.

    Most discriminatory and harassing conduct goes unreported.

    This means that age discrimination in the workplace is likely a vastly underreported problem.

  16. Educating people about ageism in the workplace and creating an inclusive culture increases the likelihood they’ll report it.

    While only 40% of employees who experienced or witnessed ageism file a formal complaint, this number increases to 65% of those who’ve undergone age discrimination training.

    But it all starts with workplace culture, which determines if workers are valued regardless of age.

  17. In 1990, workers aged 40-54 filed most ADEA charges, whereas workers aged 65+ filed relatively few.

    However, more charges were filed by workers aged 55-64 than younger workers in 2017. The percentage of charges filed by workers age 65 and older doubled as well.

  18. Between 2011 and 2021, 207,315 U.S. workers filed age discrimination claims with the EEOC.

    This works out to about 20,700 per year and makes up roughly 20% of workplace discrimination claims. However, in 2021, only 1% of these resulted in successful conciliations

    In 2018, the organization filed only 10 age discrimination suits.

  19. If you win your federal age-discrimination case, you won’t receive anything for your pain and suffering.

    On the federal level, the most damages you can be awarded related to an ageism case is twice your lost back pay, plus attorney fees. This contributes to an unwillingness to pursue litigation by victims of discrimination.

What are some examples of age discrimination?

Examples of age discrimination include:

  • Speaking to an older employee in a demeaning tone.

  • Only hiring employees under a certain age.

  • Overlooking an older employee for a deserved promotion or more challenging work assignments.

  • Isolating an older employee or leaving them out.

  • Encouraging or forcing an older employee to retire or targeting them for layoffs.

  • Unfairly disciplining an older employee or putting them on an undeserved performance plan.

Age Discrimination Statistics FAQ

  1. How many age discrimination claims were made in 2020?

    14,183 age discrimination claims were made in 2020. 21% of the claims filed included age discrimination claims, which was fewer than the 21.4% (15,573) filed in 2019. (Keep in mind that some claims had multiple types of discrimination charges.)

    Even with this number of age discrimination claims being filed, more than 50% of employees who witnessed age discrimination didn’t report it. The number of instances of age discrimination was much higher than the reports show.

    This significant number of age discrimination claims isn’t new, as from 2010 to 2017, there were approximately 205,000 age discrimination claims filed with the EEOC.

    These accounted for about 22% of all workplace discrimination claims filed during this period, although only 1% were found to be actual age discrimination.

    For those who file age discrimination claims, take them to court, and win their cases, the most they can win is twice the pay they lost plus their legal fees, which isn’t appealing enough for most people to pursue litigation.

  2. What are the three types of age discrimination?

    The three types of age discrimination are discrimination in job eliminations, discrimination in promotions, and discrimination in job advertisements.

    When companies want to fire someone because of their age, they claim they’ve eliminated the position, only to fill it later with younger workers.

    In addition, some employers may target older employees in layoffs or coerce them into retiring early, saying their only options are to retire early or be fired.

    Some companies may also choose a younger, less experienced employee for a promotion instead of choosing an older, more qualified employee for the same promotion.

    Often companies do this because they want to be able to pay the younger employee less, and it is a form of age discrimination.

    Other companies may try to sneak age discrimination into their job advertisements. Some will use verbiage or experience maximums that disqualify older workers from applying, and others will target social media ads to specific age groups.

    All of this is illegal and a form of age discrimination.

  3. How can you prove discrimination based on age?

    You can prove discrimination based on age through four essential steps. These include:

    • Prove you’re a protected age class. You’re automatically fall under the “protected age class” if you’re 40 and older, meaning that this should be easy to prove. Additionally, this is federal law, meaning that you should be protected in any legal workplace.

    • Prove your job was performed properly. If you have younger co-workers or a boss discriminating against you based on your age, it’s important that you prove that you perform your job accurately and effectively. In doing so, you’ll effectively remove the “he said-she said” aspects of another employee harassing, insulting, or punishing you unjustly for your age.

    • Show how adverse action was taken against you. Once you prove that you perform your job properly, you can then present evidence of how you were discriminated against. Common punishments you can bring up are cut hours, time-off request denials, forced overtime, discriminatory comments, and many more.

    • Compare with younger employees. The final key to proving age discrimination in the workplace is to present how a boss or co-worker treats younger employees differently, despite the fact that you preform your job just as effectively. Typically, this last step will be the final nail in the coffin for proving your case, and hopefully get you the compensation you deserve.

  4. Can employers ask your age?

    Yes, employers can ask your age. They cannot, however, discriminate against you because of it. Some jobs can specify a maximum age for entry, but these are mainly federal law enforcement jobs with highly specific requirements.

    If an employer asks you your age, it may be tempting to lie to make yourself look more appealing as a candidate, but this has its risks, as if you are hired, they’ll find out about your age and are often allowed to fire you for lying on your application.

    If you lied about your age for a federal job with a maximum age requirement, you could even go to prison.

    If you don’t lie about your age, don’t get the job, and believe that it was because of your age, you can submit an EEOC claim for age discrimination.

    Just do your homework to make sure it was about age and not your qualifications because employers have the right to eliminate a candidate from consideration based on their qualifications.

  5. What percentage of EEOC cases are for age discrimination?

    21.1% of EEOC cases are for age discrimination. In 2021, 12,965 age discrimination claims were filed. Many of the EEOC cases filed have more than one discrimination charge, but 21.1% of all charges were for age discrimination.

    This rate has held generally steady for over a decade, as from 2010 to 2017, age discrimination claims accounted for 22% of all claims filed, and in 2019, they accounted for 21.4%.

    This means that almost a quarter of all discrimination charges filed with the EEOC from 2010 to 2020 were for ageism, which shows that people feel it occurs far more often than many think.

    However, during the 2010-2017 time span, just 1% of cases were confirmed that they were, in fact, age discrimination.

    This low percentage to low reward ratio if they go to litigation and win discourages many people from filing claims, as only 50% of coworkers observe ageism file reports.

  6. What is the Age Discrimination in Employment Act?

    The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) was enacted to prohibit age discrimination in the workplace and promote the employment of older workers.

    This federal act establishes two types of age discrimination:

    • Disparate treatment — Intentional less-favorable treatment of an individual for discriminatory reasons.

    • Disparate impact — Unintentional discrimination caused by otherwise neutral policies, practices, rules, or systems.

    Either way, the act protects against age-related discrimination and harassment during hiring, firing, promotion, and layoff processes, as well as when it comes to benefits and training.


Age discrimination in the workplace means treating an applicant or employee less favorably because of their age. Federal laws apply to workers aged 40 and older, although age discrimination occurs at all ends of the spectrum.

While workplace age discrimination is rampant, most of those who witness it or are victims themselves do not report the problem to their company or the federal government. However, studies show that educating employees and implementing more inclusive hiring processes increases age discrimination reporting.

Compared to national origin, race, color, religion, disability, sex, and familial status, discrimination based on an employee’s age remains widespread and an ‘open secret’ among nearly all industries, races, and genders.

However, as the U.S. population ages and an increasing number of older individuals remain in or reenter the workplace, ageist beliefs, attitudes, and employment practices could decrease. Success hinges on companies’ actions when training employees about age discrimination, creating inclusive workplace cultures, and addressing potential biases in the hiring process.


  1. U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. ‘’The State of Age Discrimination and Older Workers in the U.S. 50 Years After the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)’’. Accessed on June 27, 2022.

  2. American Association of Retired Persons. ‘’Age Discrimination Common in Workplace, Survey Says’’. Accessed on June 27, 2022.

  3. SeniorLiving.org. ‘’Age Discrimination: 25 Crucial Statistics’’. Accessed on June 27, 2022.

  4. Hiscox.com. ‘’2019 Hiscox Ageism in the Workplace Study’’. Accessed on June 27, 2022.

  5. American Association of Retired Persons. ‘’Face-to-Face Job Interviews Can Trigger Age Bias’’. Accessed on June 27, 2022.

  6. American Association of Retired Persons. ‘’Age Discrimination Costs the Nation $850 Billion, Study Finds’’. Accessed on June 27, 2022.

  7. American Association of Retired Persons. ‘’Workplace Age Discrimination Still Flourishes in America’’. Accessed on June 27, 2022.

  8. First Round. ‘’State of Startups 2018’’. Accessed on June 27, 2022.

  9. American Association of Retired Persons. ‘’Age Bias That’s Barred by Law Appears in Thousands of Job Listings’’. Accessed on June 27, 2022.

  10. American Association of Retired Persons. ‘’Age Bias Complaints Rise Among Women and Minorities’’. Accessed on June 27, 2022.

  11. BuiltIn.com. ‘’The Cold, Hard Truth About Ageism in the Workplace’’. Accessed on June 27, 2022.

  12. Brandon Gaille. ‘’27 Surprising Age Discrimination in the Workplace Statistics’’. Accessed on June 27, 2022.

  13. American Association of Retired Persons. ‘’10 Things You Should Know About Age Discrimination’’. Accessed on June 27, 2022.

  14. Aegis Law. ‘’Age Discrimination Statistics’’. Accessed on June 27, 2022.

  15. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. ‘’Is there age discrimination in hiring’’? Accessed on June 27, 2022.

  16. World Health Organization. ‘’Ageism is a global challenge: UN’’. Accessed on June 27, 2022.

  17. Embroker. ‘’Ageism in the Workplace and How to Fight It’’. Accessed on June 27, 2022.

  18. Best Companies AZ. ‘’Revealing Age Discrimination Statistics’’. Accessed on June 27, 2022.

  19. Sherman Law. ‘’What is Age Discrimination in the Workplace? [Examples FAQs]’’. Accessed on June 27, 2022.

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Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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