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Age Discrimination in the Workplace: A Case for Forensic Psychological Evaluation

Empowering Employment Attorneys

by Mark D. Lerner, Ph.D.

Clinical & Forensic Psychologist

Age discrimination in the workplace refers to the unjust treatment of employees based on age. It can impact any aspect of employment, including hiring, salary, and promotions; it can also manifest as harassment, leading to a hostile work environment and retaliation.

The deeply unsettling nature of age discrimination can lead to a range of psychological symptoms, including anxiety, panic, fear, depression, sleep problems, intrusive repetitive recollections, avoidance behavior, and posttraumatic stress. These issues can affect every aspect of a person’s life, from their ability to work to their relationships with their family and friends.

A Forensic Psychological Evaluation can provide attorneys with clinical and objective, empirically based psychometric data demonstrating age discrimination's emotional and functional impact.

A comprehensive evaluation can help substantiate claims of emotional distress and the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s current emotional and functional problems.

Furthermore, administering objective measures can determine if a plaintiff is malingering or feigning symptoms, thereby supporting the claim’s validity. This is especially crucial in age discrimination as it could potentially minimize or dismiss the plaintiff’s emotional distress.

A Forensic Psychological Evaluation can also assist in identifying the long-term effects of age discrimination on individuals. It has been associated with cardiovascular problems, chronic stress, inflammation, and brain changes linked to Alzheimer’s disease (Next Avenue, 2021). Furthermore, ageism can have a significant impact on mental health, contributing to high blood pressure, negative health behaviors, and early aging (Commonwealth Fund, 2022). A meta-analysis revealed that ageist attitudes predicted a shorter lifespan in adults aged fifty and older and affected psychiatric conditions, particularly the onset and continuance of depressive symptoms over the lifespan (Journal of Ethics, 2023). A forensic evaluation can provide attorneys with a comprehensive understanding of the lasting impact of age discrimination in the workplace.

Age discrimination can have a profound impact on employees’ emotional well-being and overall quality of life. Forensic Psychological Evaluation offers a valuable mechanism for attorneys to gather clinical and objective data that substantiates the severity of the plaintiff’s emotional and functional problems. This is a critical step in addressing and combating age discrimination.


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