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Handling Discrimination in the IT Workplace? 918

RJ asks: "I would like to get some advice from others that may be going through the same situation I am. I am currently 19 and will be turning 20 in 1 week. I have held my current job, as Systems-Network Administrator, for almost a year now in very good standing according to my direct boss, the IT Manager. I have 5 years industry experience and a few certifications, yet I am more then qualified for my current position according to previous employers (and my work history/experience). It has recently come to my attention that our IT Director is trying to either find a way to get rid of me or transfer me into a miserable job position, all because of my age. My Boss explained to me he thinks it has to do with a bit of jealousy. Everyone I work with is over the age of 30 and the IT director is in his mid 40's." Either your too old, or your too young, or it's racial issues, sexual preference, and sometimes it can even be religion. Despite the fact that it's the 21st century discrimination still exists and many of us have had to face it in our careers. For most, it basically amounts to a career roadblock, while for others, it can also turn into an extremely humiliating and terrible experience. What options exist for those who experience it in any of the many forms it can take in the workplace?

"The IT Director has never approached me about any of this and treats me fine to my face, but seems to talk bad about me around my Boss, though my boss does his best to defend me. I have had no work problems (documented or not) and have a clean HR record. It's to the point I can't trust anyone at work anymore. Everywhere I work people like me but as soon as they learn my age they automatically hate me, become jealous, or try to find ways to get rid of me. I have learned to deal with this problem as I figured it went with the territory. However, I also have a new baby daughter and a new wife to support and I can't lose my job, especially in this economy. Needless to say I am polishing up the resume and starting to look for a new job, but can anyone offer any sound advice, or legal actions which I can take if I do get fired, or even suggest employers in the industry that are friendly to my age bracket?"

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Handling Discrimination in the IT Workplace?

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  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Sunday December 30, 2001 @11:44AM (#2764686) Homepage
    IF you keep worrying, you will age much faster and people will not get you for age discrimination. But Age discrimination happens the other direction as well -- if you're in IT, not management and over 35... watch out! You're being watched closely for signs of obsolescence. Many have associated that problem in conjunction with H1-B abuse... hrm... anyway...

    Keep worrying! You'll lose your hair, get a wrinkly forehead and you'll fit right in. In the mean time, there's always surgery.
  • by SCHecklerX ( 229973 ) <greg@gksnetworks.com> on Sunday December 30, 2001 @11:48AM (#2764703) Homepage
    Ack! Until you're gone. I think that's the first time I've ever made that mistake. I think I might have some slashdot-related disease!
  • La Petite (Score:2, Funny)

    by Knunov ( 158076 ) <eat@my.ass> on Sunday December 30, 2001 @11:58AM (#2764737) Homepage
    "...can anyone...suggest employers in the industry that are friendly to my age bracket?"

    Try La Petite [lapetite.com].


  • Pfft (Score:5, Funny)

    by underpaidISPtech ( 409395 ) on Sunday December 30, 2001 @12:12PM (#2764787) Homepage
    Man, I've lost count of the posts on /. that go something like this:

    Hi SlashDot, I'm $Xteen years old, and I'm the IT/NOC/Systems Director/Manager/Admin and I make $AVG_NORTH_AMERICAN_SALARY*2.5/year.
    I never went to college, got the job right out of HS, starting as a phone jockey. I have $AGE/4 years experience. All my underlings are $AGE*4 years. Ph3@r m3.

    If this is for real, then at 26 with no certs I'm washed up and ready for the old folks home.

    Insensitivity: -1, Offtopic: -1, KiddyBashing: -1, Speaking your mind: Priceless
  • by standards ( 461431 ) on Sunday December 30, 2001 @12:21PM (#2764822)
    I have a similar problem. I'm only 22, but I'm as smart as a whip. Perhaps even smarter.

    My boss, who is 41, isn't that smart. I mean he started in the industry doing COBOL. Come on, even I'm smarter than that.

    My colleagues are all older than me. They always talk about the old days, like C++ and VMS. They just like to worry what management likes to hear. Not me, I'm a PHP god, and I'm sure we can save millions if they'd let me.

    There is this one older guy that I work with who LOVES to use databases! I said "just put it all in XML"! Saves thousands of dollars just in database licensing fees! But he won, because the management likes older guys and that old database crap.

    I spoke my mind, and my boss shut me down. I said to him "what happened to free speech???". Then he demoted me to the mail room.

    They're all old guys down there too. They're concerned about delivering junk mail. I said "Let's just chuck it, no one reads it anyway". It could save thousnads a year, but they don't listen to younger people who are smarter then they are.

    My friend Timmy is in law school - he's helping me document all this so we can sue them and then I'll own my boss!
  • by zulux ( 112259 ) on Sunday December 30, 2001 @01:33PM (#2765039) Homepage Journal
    Start your own consulting business by yourself.... The only problem for me, is when my boss sexualy herasses me whenever I'm alone with a fast internet conection....
  • by ewirt ( 70797 ) on Sunday December 30, 2001 @01:34PM (#2765040)
    While I do not know anything about the article submitter, I can attest to the fact that it is possible to have (approximately) 5 years of *on the job* experience at the age of 19.

    I took my first *REAL* computer job at the age of 14. It was supposed to be an "internship" for the summer at a small/medium sized consulting house (~150 employees). I started by doing new system builds, but within 3 weeks they offered me a real full-blown job, doing things like onsite installations and troubleshooting (someone else had to drive), repair and maintenance of everything from monitors and printers to powersupplies and laptops, and even eeprom programming for handheld barcode scanners.

    I did this for ~2.5 years during high-school, full-time during the summers, and part-time during the school year. Additionally, I did *contracted* programming jobs for small to medium-sized businesses on the side during the school year. After graduating high-school at 17, myself and 2 friends (aged 25 and 45) started our own business doing integration and consulting. While I realize that the "ran my own business" line is often a cop-out lie on a resume (and yes, we *did* start in a garage), we were out of the garage in 6 months, completely self-funded, and by the time I was 19 (2.5yrs of business ownership) we had 2 locations, 27 employees, and about 5 million in annual revenue.

    The point is, 5 years of experience at 19 is definately the exception, but certainly not impossible. I am 25 now, and have no problem saying that I have 10 years of PROFESSIONAL experience. I also agree with other posters that counting your own "tinkering with computers" time as experience is *not* the same as real-world experience. If it were, I'd claim 19 years experience, and get even funnier looks than I already do...

    I lost my .sig in the ashtray...
  • by einer ( 459199 ) on Sunday December 30, 2001 @07:31PM (#2766024) Journal
    And while it wasn't against company policy, it looked pretty immature when he was involved with a different staff member every month - and it wasn't the kind of mistake a 40-year old programmer would have made.

    40 year old programmers.... date?
  • by Otter ( 3800 ) on Sunday December 30, 2001 @07:41PM (#2766050) Journal
    Hopefully, but then what about this guy [slashdot.org] ("Ive been fired for being too smart for my age twice now and I am not even 20") and the others with similar stories? Anything can happen once, but if you've lost more than one job over personality conflicts, it's really time to think about how good you really are and what you could be doing differently. I know I would never hire anyone who had been fired twice and showed no evidence of having learned any lesson, but then I don't work in IT and they seem to have fewer qualms about hiring complete assholes.

    It's interesting how none of the over-21 posters have much sympathy for either "My boss and coworkers hate me because I'm so much better than them!" or "I do so have six years of work experience! I've been getting paid for computer work since I was 12!" I'm sure the kids are taking us about as seriously as they take their parents' "When you're older, you'll understand." But when they're older, they'll understand. ;-)

    By the way, here's a really frightening picture: Imagine how these know-it-all, my-boss-hates-me-because-I'm-so-smart goobers interact with girls....

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 30, 2001 @07:52PM (#2766066)
    First off I apologize for my grammer. Secondly I have 5 years real world experince and I am not talking about running some pethetic highschool network...I was home schooled and graduated at

    Note to self: Scratch home-schooling plans. Hire English tooter.

The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable. -- John Kenneth Galbraith