Bill Gates most likely got many birthday cards on Friday, probably from fans and critics alike. He also got one congratulating him on the "rare feat" of turning 50 while still being employed in the IT sector.
Amicus, a manufacturing, technical and skilled persons' trade union in the U.K., said it sent the card to Microsoft's chairman and chief software architect to draw attention to age discrimination in IT. The union commissioned a study, conducted by the Labour Research Department, and found that of 500 IT workers who responded, 71 percent believe that their employers treat people less favorably because of age. Over 80 percent of IT workers in the U.K. are under 45 years old, Amicus said.
The Labour Research Department is an organization that conducts research and publishes news and information for trade unions.
The higher up on the corporate ladder a person is, the more likely he or she is to discriminate based on age, or at least that's the perception among workers, the study found. Senior managers are blamed for treating older people unfairly by 79 percent of the workers. A lesser 56 percent said line management is responsible for the poor treatment.
Recruitment, redundancy, pay, promotion and training are the most important areas where discrimination exists, respondents said.
Older workers aren't the only ones affected by age discrimination. On the other end of the spectrum, some workers say they feel discriminated against for being too young. They may be told their pay is lower than colleagues' because of their age or that they are too young to be considered for promotions, according to the research.