A 28 year old female supervisor at a different department, looking to sabotage me professionally and socially, revealed my age to some select co-workers.

Is this illegal? Should I tell HR?

I am over 40 and work in digital media. What is the likelihood that she would get fired? I suspect the motive is jealousy. It is creating a toxic environment for me at work and changing people's perceptions of me.

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    for context, can you give examples on how revealing your age will sabotage your career? I haven't heard of a country / industry where your age is highly-confidential information (except maybe in Show Business). – AddictedWithOracle Mar 8 '18 at 1:17
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    @NYWorkerBee I'm familiar with the industry and just how much age discrimination is in there. You may want to edit your post to reflect your industry and age and why it's a concern so that this question isn't closed as off topic – Old_Lamplighter Mar 8 '18 at 1:17
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    @AddictedWithOracle passing along personal information, gossiping, et cetera is creating a hostile environment, spreading someone's age, if they are over fourty is age discrimination, and actionable. Any HR rep can tell you that. – Old_Lamplighter Mar 8 '18 at 1:18
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    @NYWorkerBee how did she have access to your age (which obviously didn't show, or you wouldn't be worried about it)? – Captain Emacs Mar 8 '18 at 3:53
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    "I am over 40" - how old do you think people think you are? Generally people aren't incapable of guessing someone's age... – AakashM Mar 8 '18 at 9:17

Retaliation is probably going to be a very bad idea. While her action may have been unprofessional or possibly illegal, I suspect that attempts to have her repremanded for it will cost you politically much more than it will help you.

You're going to have a difficult time convincing the right people that this was a big deal (I am NOT arguing it isn't, but rather what others will perceive). Those people will probably consider your complaint to be politically motivated and irritating rather than actionable. Basically, I suggest doing nothing in this case until you have something that others will more likely take as a serious greivance.

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  • Thanks everyone. I appreciate your input. It helps to get advice from non-biased people. – NYWorkerBee Mar 8 '18 at 3:09

I am not a lawyer, but I am familiar with New York, having worked there. NY has some VERY strict labor laws, and while she would likely get into trouble, HR IS NOT YOUR FRIEND. By that, I mean that HR is there to protect the company, not to protect you.So, unless you have an iron-clad case for discrimination and have spoken to an employment attorney, going to HR could backfire.

Your best course of action is to tell the person who is doing this that you don't like your personal information being spread around the office. Tell her that it makes you "uncomfortable", and use that word. Then note it.

You want to keep a written record of everything because if this becomes a pattern, you want to be able to go to a lawyer, or to HR with a well documented pattern of harassment so that it's not just a "Well, she did this", but rather....

On February 13, 2017, at 2:15pm by the water cooler, I heard Jessica tell Robert "Can you believe she's 45! Wow, I can't believe she works in such a young field, she should find somewhere else to work" Then, later on March 6, at 11:00 AM, in a meeting about online widget marketing....

Make a paper trail and Document Everything That way, even if the behavior stops for a while, and then picks up again, you will not be caught without recourse.

But again, HR IS NOT YOUR FRIEND They won't automatically take your side just because you filed a complaint. The complaint needs to be solid, fully documented, and in the company's best interests to resolve in your favor. If you go in, be ready to supply your documentation and be aware of unforeseen circumstances such as being known as the person who filed against a coworker, which may affect your relationship with your other coworkers.

Try to resolve things with her first, then if things continue, get advice from a lawyer, then if the lawyer advises you, go to HR.

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  • Thanks @Richard. I almost feel like perhaps the best option is to leave the job when feasible. If I have to go to HR and go to a lawyer I will lose more than I have already lost. – NYWorkerBee Mar 9 '18 at 4:12
  • @NYWorkerBee YW. It sometimes is best. I had to do battle with a toxic coworker myself. This ended up resolving itself as a manager went to HR over this person's behavior and ended it that way. I'm sorry you're going through this. – Old_Lamplighter Mar 9 '18 at 11:42

Your best bet here is to step up your game and become the absolute best person they have in that position. Show them that age is just a number. Once you have the respect that goes with being the best, then no one will care about the jealous woman and her age problem. In fact it will then make her look petty and unprofessional.

Is it fair that you have to work harder when you are older than your colleagues? No. But life isn't fair. Everyone who has something that makes them not like the rest of the group has to work harder to prove they belong in the group. I have had to do it as a woman and, in my industry where people over 30 is unusual, I have have had to do it as someone in my 60s. I know people who have had to do it because of their race or because they are autistic or deaf or in a wheelchair.

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  • Thanks @HLGEM. You are absolutely right about that. I need to concentrate on doing the best job I can and not focus on the pettiness. – NYWorkerBee Mar 9 '18 at 4:14

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