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The Age Factor | Human Resource Executive Online

19 September 2013—Marcie Pitt-Catsouphes is quoted by Human Resource Executive Online

Reducing the Friction

Whether they're working full-time or part-time, or coming in for the occasional special project, older employees might be surprised to find themselves on the receiving end of "microaggressions," according to Marcie Pitt-Catsouphes, director of the Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College. Originally coined by Derald Wing Sue, a professor at Teachers College of Columbia University in New York, microaggressions refer to "brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral and environmental indignities ... that communicate hostile, derogatory or negative slights and insults to the target person or group."

Microaggressions can be as overt as the use of age-related epithets such as "gramps," "geezer," or "old man" or as subtle as leaving mature workers out of after-work social activities. Either way, says Pitt-Catsouphes, they have a negative impact on their well-being and work-related outcomes.

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