Age is important to us, especially it seems in the US. And AGEISM exists everywhere. According to the WiseGeek, ageism is a term coined in 1969 by Robert Butler. Most of us think of it in terms of discrimination against older people, especially in the workplace. As The WiseGeek says "Many people use this term specifically to refer to discrimination against older people, but ageism can strike people of all ages." Teens can feel shut out of the workplace with "adultism", a preference for older workers, and older workers feel shut out by "jeunism", where workplaces prefer younger workers.
The legal protection in this country against discrimination based upon age is provided by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's (EEOC) enforcement of Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)of 1967. The law states that it is illegal to discriminate against anyone over the age of 40 in all aspects of employment, unless age is a Bona Fide Occupational Qualification (BFOQ). There is no protection for workers under the age of 40. However, the fact that this law exists does not stop the discrimination from occuring, as you might have guessed. The EEOC reports that in 2008 it "...received 24,582 charges of age discrimination. EEOC resolved 21,415 age discrimination charges in FY 2008 and recovered $82.8 million in monetary benefits for charging parties and other aggrieved individuals (not including monetary benefits obtained through litigation)." This is almost 25% of the total number of discrimination claims of all types.