It’s no secret America’s workforce is aging. The increase in older people working has been followed by an increase in age discrimination. Employers have shown a bias against people over the age of 40. Fortunately, workers in Georgia, Alabama, Chicago and throughout the United States are protected against age discrimination. Federal legislation prohibits it, but most states also have their own statutes addressing it. Unfortunately, proving age discrimination can be difficult without attorneys to help.
At Barrett & Farahany, our employment law firm is dedicated to helping clients who have experienced age discrimination. Through fact-finding, discovery, strategic pleadings, and negotiations, our age discrimination attorneys succeed where others may fail. If you think an employer has discriminated against you based on your age, contact us at (334) 237-7773 to schedule a complimentary consultation with an attorney and to learn more about any legal options available to you. You will talk to an attorney about your case today.
Age discrimination occurs when a person receives unfair treatment due to their age as an employee or as a job applicant. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) is a federal law designed to protect persons 40 years of age or older. The employer or person acting on behalf of the employer (e.g., a supervisor, manager, or human resources personnel) can be 40 years old or older, too – the employer’s age does not matter. What matters is that the victim is 40 years old or older and has suffered discrimination based on being 40 years or older.
Employers who are subject to ADEA include:
What if a Younger Worker is Discriminated Against Based on Their Age?
The ADEA protects only workers over the age of 40. Some states, however, have enacted laws to protect workers who are younger than 40 years of age.
Age discrimination can take different forms. Sometimes the discrimination is overt, while other times, it is disguised as something else. The following are some examples of age discrimination.
Management and co-workers may demean older workers when they make age-related comments, like “Ok, Boomer!” These types of comments, if consistent and regular, can create a hostile work environment that could be considered harassment.
“Ok, Boomer!” however, is not enough on its own. The comments, jokes, and insults must be abusive and severe to be discriminatory. The best way to tell is based on whether or not the older worker(s)’s work performance is impacted.
Often what happens when age discrimination is at play is a younger, less qualified employer will get a promotion. Meanwhile, the more qualified but older employer is passed over for the promotion.
Age discrimination can take place even during the hiring process. When a company has a record of hiring only young employees, it may be evidence of discrimination.
Employers discourage employees from discussing their salaries, but it’s actually illegal for employers to in any way impede discussion of salaries. Word always gets around, especially when certain people are getting raises or promotions and others are not.
If you have a coworker in the same role as you with similar or less experience who is paid more, it could indicate discrimination. Look to see what your coworker’s age, race, religion, or gender is compared to your own.
Unfair criticism or discipline, like demotion or pay cuts, may indicate a supervisor is trying to create a paper trail to disguise any age-based discrimination.
Companies cannot use advertisements to discriminate. Advertisements must be free from a preference for younger employees or avoidance of older employees.
As mentioned, proving age discrimination can be a daunting task, but it is achievable. To have a prima facie case of age discrimination, an employee and their attorney must establish that:
But the case does not end by proving these four elements. The employer may challenge any legal action and claim that there was a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for their treatment in the workplace. In this scenario, the employee must then prove that the employer’s offered reason is simply a pretext and that age discrimination remains the real reason.
Proving age discrimination can also be found in patterns. If an employer has a pattern of hiring only younger people, promoting only younger people, and making jokes about older people, then this can be used to help prove your case. Often, these types of cases can require considerable discovery and witness testimony.
Employers must take precautionary measures to prevent age discrimination. Some of the policies and procedures that can be put into place are listed below.
All employees, even those in positions of leadership, can benefit from training on what age-based discrimination is and how to avoid it. Without this type of training, employees may participate in age-based discrimination and not even be aware of what they are doing. Proper training should include examples of age-based discrimination and alternative ways to approach situations.
It is important, also, that employees learn how to work with people from different backgrounds, including different races and religions, along with different ages.
Employee rewards should be based on the actual work of employees and in a way that is able to be easily measured. When rewards are determined based on arbitrary measures, it is easy for there to be discrimination, even if it is unintentional.
Also, if an employer is accused of age discrimination, being able to show that the rewards are based on an actual, measurable performance-based system will help to show that they are not being discriminatory.
Employers should implement policies that serve as a way to ensure discrimination does not occur. These policies should address all stages of employment, from advertising for employees to layoffs. This policy should be clearly explained and reviewed by employment law attorneys. Penalties should be established for policy violations.
Examples of policies employers can implement include:
There may be other state-specific precautions that employers should consider.
If you are an employee and you feel that you have been discriminated against due to your age, there are certain steps to take immediately.
Prior to filing a lawsuit, keep in mind you will first need to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Our age discrimination attorneys at Barrett & Farahany will help you file this complaint and, if necessary, file a subsequent lawsuit.
Age discrimination in the workplace is real and causes harm both to the victim and society. Making sure you are compensated fully and fairly for the harm is our job. Our award-winning firm is the oldest and largest in the Southeast, exclusively devoted to protecting employee rights. We stay on the cutting edge of the law, technology, and methods to pursue justice on behalf of employees.
Contact us today by using our online form or calling us at (334) 237-7773 to schedule a free consultation with an attorney.
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