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How “quiet firing” can be used to hide age discrimination

On Behalf of | Dec 15, 2023 | Employment Law

It takes a pretty bold employer to openly flout state and federal rules against age discrimination in the workplace, but that doesn’t mean the problem has gone away. A subtle phenomenon known as “quiet firing” has emerged as a covert strategy employers can use to conceal discrimination of all kinds.

Quiet firing refers to the practice of gradually sideling or “pushing out” an employee through a gradual withdrawal of support, career development or coaching. The process is designed to purposefully make an employee unhappy in their position (if not outright miserable) so that they’ll quit. When the targeted employee is over 40 years of age, it can be a subtle form of age discrimination.

4 signs that you’re being quietly fired

It’s important to remember that quiet firing is a gradual and progressive process. Signs that you’re purposefully being made to feel unwelcome in your workplace include:

  1. You’re being “teased” with ageist assumptions about your vitality, your longevity, your ability to handle new technology or your social media skills. You may even be denied front-facing opportunities because the company doesn’t want to seem like it’s out of touch with trends.
  2. You find yourself increasingly being denied challenging work. Your workload may seem to be lighter than ever. Despite your willingness to take on more, your employer has started to hand all the juicy assignments to younger employees. As a result, you may also be missing out on opportunities for promotion.
  3. You’re left out of important discussions. If you’re being skipped in email threads or are the last to know about changes to projects or teams, that could be a very clear signal that you’re no longer valuable to the company.
  4. The only discussion about your future is geared toward retirement. If your employer starts bringing up suggestions that the company might be willing to “buy out” your contract so you can retire “early,” that’s a huge red flag.

Even though many employers complain that they can’t find (or keep) good employees, that hasn’t stopped the problem of age discrimination in the workplace. If you believe that you’ve been targeted by your employer because of your age, it may be time to seek legal guidance that’s tailored to your situation.

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