SOC 2000 Unit 4 Assignment 1 Diversity and the Media

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Discrimination against Older Workers

Article: “Starbucks discriminates against older workers, according to former employees”

The article “Starbucks discriminates against older workers, according to former employees” sheds light on the discrimination faced by current and former employees based on age. This topic is highly relevant to our course as it explores the issue of age discrimination and highlights explicitly how Starbucks is terminating older managers and replacing them with younger unpaid workers (Chapin, A. 2018). 

The article recounts instances where employees over 40 experienced constant bullying and harassment solely due to age (Chapin, A. 2018). One dedicated employee, who had been with the company for over 15 years, applied for 29 different positions but was rejected each time, despite her outstanding performance, numerous awards, and being voted best manager of the quarter (Chapin, A. 2018). She even obtained her degree through the company scholarship program at Arizona State University (Chapin, A. 2018).

SOC 2000 Unit 4 Assignment 1 Diversity and the Media

In today’s society, it is challenging for many older individuals to secure decent jobs, and it has become common to see younger, less-experienced individuals in management positions as companies prefer to avoid higher salaries for more senior employees. This situation paints Starbucks’ upper management in a discriminatory light towards individuals over 40. Complaints were made to Human Resources, but unfortunately, no resolution was reached, and older employees were forced to resign or were terminated.

While our course discussions often focus on discrimination based on race or gender, age discrimination is a significant issue that is not addressed as frequently but deserves equal attention. Regardless of whether someone is over the age of 40 or under the age of 30, they should not be judged based on their age in the workplace, especially if they meet job expectations and perform to the best of their abilities.

In this article, the dominant social class consists of Starbucks’ upper management. They classified older employees as frail and unable to recover quickly, treating them as a minority. They held a biased perspective towards more senior employees and used this bias to push them to resign or terminate their employment. 

SOC 2000 Unit 4 Assignment 1 Diversity and the Media

By doing so, the company aimed to replace them with younger, inexperienced workers who would accept lower salaries and were less likely to require medical leave. It is essential to highlight that within this context, the minority group, which consisted of older workers, was sometimes a part of the dominant class as younger workers replaced them.

A statement from the article exemplifies the discrimination against older individuals in the workplace: “There’s a perception that an older person coming back from medical leave just can’t do the job. According to Chapin (2018), there is a perception that when a young person returns from a medical break, they are expected to recover quickly, maintain good health, and not experience any debilitation.

The theory that aligns with this article is the split labor market theory, which involves one group being paid less or eliminated based on factors such as race, sex, age, or ethnicity (Johnson, K. 2018). Split labor markets exist worldwide, including in the United States (Johnson, K. 2018). 

SOC 2000 Unit 4 Assignment 1 Diversity and the Media

This theory explains the provision of labor at lower wages or salaries for the same services performed by another group receiving higher compensation. The article accurately depicts the manifestations of the split labor market theory. In the workplace, Starbucks’ upper management discriminated against individuals of various races, sexes, ages, and ethnicities over 40. 

They bullied older employees, leading them to resign or be terminated. In one notable case, a 65-year-old former employee took legal action by filing a complaint with the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights. This employee had been terminated from her position and subsequently replaced by two workers in their 20s. 

The complaint alleged age-based discrimination within Starbucks’ employment practices, pointing to the precise pattern of replacing older employees with younger counterparts. This incident further highlights the pervasive issue of age discrimination within the company and the need for corrective measures to ensure equal treatment and opportunities for workers of all ages.” (Chapin, A. 2018). Although Starbucks denied the woman’s allegations, they ultimately settled the case out of court (Chapin, A. 2018).

SOC 2000 Unit 4 Assignment 1 Diversity and the Media

In terms of pluralism, which exists when groups maintain their identities (Healey & O’Brien, 2015), the article does not directly address race and ethnic groups. However, it demonstrates similarities, particularly regarding individuals over 40 and upper management within the workplace.

To address this discriminatory situation, several viable strategies can be proposed. Firstly, creating more suitable positions tailored explicitly for individuals within a certain age bracket would provide all employees relief and comfort, ensuring employment stability for older workers. 

Such situations could consider their expertise, skills, and experience while avoiding age-based biases. Secondly, it is crucial to resolve the issue of pay discrepancies based on age groups. An individual’s worth or compensation as an employee should not be determined solely based on their age. Companies can foster a more inclusive and fair work environment free from age-based discrimination by ensuring equitable pay for employees regardless of age.

SOC 2000 Unit 4 Assignment 1 Diversity and the Media

In conclusion, discrimination against older workers, as depicted in the article, is a critical issue that needs to be addressed. Implementing the suggested strategies of creating suitable positions for specific age groups and rectifying age-based pay disparities will contribute to a more equitable and inclusive work environment. 

Companies need to recognize the value and contributions of older employees and ensure they are treated with respect and fairness. By doing so, we can strive towards eliminating age discrimination and creating a society that values individuals based on their abilities and merits rather than their age.


Healey, J. F., & O’Brien, E. (2015). Race, ethnicity, gender, & class: The sociology of group conflict and change (7th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. 

Chapin, A. (2018). Starbucks Discriminates Against Older Workers, According To Former 

Employees. Business. Huffington post,

Johnson, K. (2018). Examples of a Split Labor Market. Chron,