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Asking Eric: My boss won’t stop bringing up age

4 days ago 19

Dear Eric: I am a 50-year-old technology worker. My boss is in her early 40s. She has made comments that are not my business about co-workers in their 60s who she says “should retire.” Needless to say I’m not too far behind those folks in age.

I get Botox, filler, color my hair, diet and exercise and keep up on all the latest technology. However, like everyone who isn't a vampire, I'm aging. I've had some health issues and I will need to work until at least 65 to pay for my health insurance and medications. The earliest I could even receive Social Security is still 12 years away!

I feel very anxious about losing my job because I’m too “old.” Widespread ageism is common in the tech industry where youth is highly celebrated; it’s not just my boss. Is there a gentle way to remind people that age is not a topic that should come up in the workplace unless it is specifically related to succession or retirement planning? Do I just let it go?

— No More Age Talk

Age: You don’t have to let it go! What you’re experiencing isn’t fair and may cross a legal line. I reached out to human resources expert Hannah Marks, a people and talent adviser at Culture Marks, for guidance.

“As a first step for any employees experiencing ageism in the workplace,” she said, “it is key to maintain documentation of any/all instances. From there, it's always a good idea to flag the situation to your HR team. If the company is too small and doesn't yet have an HR team (often the case in tech), bringing this up to a manager or senior leader is another good option. In more severe cases, or when HR/senior leadership has failed to appropriately address the situation, employees have the right to seek legal counsel.”

You do have resources, even if the culture of your workplace suggests otherwise. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act specifically forbids age discrimination against people who are age 40 or older.

If you want to learn more about the law and your options for reporting, I’d encourage you to visit the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s website. They have a whole section dedicated to age discrimination and ways to combat it.

Lastly, any boss who would rather put older employees out to pasture than benefit from their experience, is going to have a rude awakening in a few years.

Dear Eric: I have a cousin who recently told me that he is “in love” with a woman in a foreign country and plans to get married. He would have to fly over to her country and get married, leaving behind his son, grandson and mother, who is in a nursing home.

He has never actually met this woman, and I am concerned that the whole thing is a scam. I found out the country is one where foreigners can’t have any property in their name, so anything he would buy would be only in her name. What should I say to him? I don’t want to crush him.

— Concerned Cousin

Cousin: You’re right to be concerned. Romance scams are quite common. Often, they start online, with the scammers professing love quickly, suddenly needing money and then vanishing. It’s a huge red flag that your cousin’s relationship requires him to leave the country and get married. I know you don’t want to crush him, but he could be in real danger and a bruised heart is the better option.

First, be upfront about your concerns and your reasons. Use the FBI romance scam section to walk your cousin through any similarities in his life. Ask him for photos of his fiancé and do a reverse image search using Google or another search engine to see if they're stock photos, or if they're associated with another person. Ask him to talk you through his plan for his family, for his mother's care and his plan after getting married. Be probing but kind.

Loneliness is a major problem for many adults, especially as we get older. Assure him that he's not wrong for wanting companionship. Tell him that, if this is a scam, it doesn't mean he's not worthy of love in real life. Remind him that he's not alone. According to the Federal Trade Commission, there were more than 64,000 reported romance scams in 2023, raking in $1.14 billion dollars. These numbers don't take into account the personal turmoil that can result.

Ask your cousin to slow down the relationship for his own safety and that of his family. If he’s insistent and you still have concerns, you can also report the suspected fraud to the FTC or the FBI’s internet Crime Complaint Center.

(Send questions to R. Eric Thomas at [email protected] or P.O. Box 22474, Philadelphia, PA 19110. Follow him on Instagram and sign up for his weekly newsletter at rericthomas.com.)

2024 Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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