Older workers make important contributions to the workplace, its productivity, and its culture. Work remains important for older adults for financial security, to give meaning to later life, to maintain social networks, and to promote lifelong learning. However, ageist beliefs about the capacity of older adults to remain productive and contributing workers in the workforce can create barriers for older workers. Understanding how older workers experience ageist behavior in the workplace can help employers, policy makers, and social workers learn more about how to address this social problem. Organizations can become more age friendly through enabling workplace programs, supportive management, and proactive human resource managers. Social workers serving older adults in employee assistance programs and in private practice can help them to challenge ageism in the workplace. Finally, legislation such as the Age Discrimination in Employment Act protects the rights of older workers; however, more legislation is needed to address bullying and harassment of older adults in the workplace.
Ageism in the Workplace
Lauren B. Gates
Vocational rehabilitation (VR) services, provided through a jointly funded state–federal rehabilitation system and available in each state, help people with disabilities prepare for, secure, and sustain employment. Since 1920, VR Programs have helped 10 million individuals with disabilities reach employment. Anyone with a mental or physical disability is eligible for VR services. While a range of services is provided, the services most consistent with VR goals are those, such as supported employment, that promote full integration into community life. Social workers are essential to community-based VR services; however, a challenge for the profession is to assume new roles to meet best practice vocational standards.