Age harassment is a form of harassment in which a person is targeted due to his or her age, usually because the person is either older or younger than most of the people in a particular group. This type of harassment can be a serious concern in workplaces and similar environments, and in the US it is illegal to engage in age harassment in a workplace. Despite the dual nature of this form of harassment, laws in the US primarily protect those who are harassed due to advanced age, rather than those who may suffer harassment due to youth.
Often associated with ageism, age harassment usually takes the form of physical, verbal, or psychological taunting or abuse that makes a person feel threatened or uncomfortable. This can take a number of forms, including inappropriate jokes, comments made with regard to the age of a person, offensive stereotypes regarding people of a certain age, and violence or aggression directed primarily toward someone due to his or her age. There does not need to be an act of physical violence for age harassment to take place, however, merely someone having the sense of being threatened or made to feel unnecessarily uncomfortable due to his or her age.
Age harassment, like many other forms of harassment, is illegal in the workplace in the US and many other countries. In the US, for example, any form of harassment or discrimination that takes place toward someone over the age of 40, due to his or her age, is grounds for a lawsuit or disciplinary action. An employer who engages in age harassment, or is seen as condoning such harassment, is potentially vulnerable for a lawsuit against him or her. Someone who engages in this form of harassment in the workplace may be terminated due to such behavior.
Despite the fact that age harassment could potentially be directed toward someone due to his or her lack of age, such as someone who is below an average age for a certain group, there is little legislation to protect someone from such harassment. While there may not be legal protection for young people from age harassment, it is still possible that an employer would terminate an employee for engaging in such harassment on general principal. Such a termination could also occur to avoid the potential for a company to serve as a model for a hearing on harassment toward young people and the establishment of a new precedent.