As the population gets older, age discrimination is becoming more common among employers. There is no doubt that ageism is real, but it is not something that you should have to tolerate. If you believe you are not being hired because of your age, there are avenues available for which to obtain legal relief, which may include monetary damages. This may involve filing a discrimination charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) as a prelude to filing an age discrimination lawsuit against the employer. These types of cases can be difficult to prove, however, so your first step should be to speak with an experienced employment law attorney in your state to find out what kind of case you have.
What Does Age Discrimination Look Like?
Does any of this sound like you? You’re over 50 years old and you have worked at the same company for more than 20 years. Due to circumstances beyond your control (such as having to move out of the area because your spouse got a job or you needed to be closer to an aging parent), you had to leave the company you work for. You are highly skilled at your position, you have in-depth experience, impeccable references, and expertise that goes beyond that of most in your field.
The job market is very strong right now, there are plenty of openings for positions in your industry, and unemployment is very low in the city and state you are moving to. So, with all of that going for you, you should have no problem finding a new job, right? Well, that’s what you thought anyway.
Even before you completed the move to your new location, you put your resume out to all of the job search platforms, and you’ve had many positive conversations on the phone with recruiters and hiring managers. They speak highly of your background and professional experience, and they make it sound like you would be a perfect fit for the position they have available.
When you finally arrive at your new home and start lining up face-to-face interviews, you are confident that your job search will not last more than a week or two. Then you start sitting down with some of the same people you have talked to on the phone, and things take a decidedly downward turn.
You sense a negative vibe with hiring managers after you meet them face-to-face for the first time. Their mood is much different in-person than it was on the phone, and many of the questions they ask seem to have very little to do with the actual job. At the end of the interview, they are courteous, but they are also rather cold and short. They politely inform you that they’ll “be in touch” if they want you to come back and take the next step in the hiring process, and that is the last you hear from them.
Several weeks after your move, you are starting to get settled into your new surroundings, but you still have not been able to find a job. You’re not sure why, you never had a problem getting a job in the past, and you worked for several employers before settling into the company you stayed with for two decades. But now, when you follow up with these companies, they say you are “overqualified” or “not exactly what they were looking for”, or something similar. The companies keep re-posting the job openings you were applying for, but they never call you back.
Types of Age Discrimination
Age discrimination can take many forms, and the type of scenario described above has been experienced by countless Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers who have applied for a job after the age of 40, and especially after they have turned 50.
The various types of age discrimination can be divided into three general categories:
- Direct Discrimination: Though it is rare these days, there are still instances when an employer will provide direct evidence of ageism. The most blatant would be responses such as “you’re too old for this position” or “we are looking for someone a little younger”. Other more subtle questions can also show discrimination, such as “how old are you?”, “how much longer do you plan to keep working?”, “when do you plan to retire?”, or “what year did you graduate?”
- Disparate Treatment: As in the scenario described earlier, you were highly qualified for the job, and as it turns out, better qualified than the person they ended up giving the job to. The job called for the exact educational credentials, experience, and skillset you possess, but they gave it to someone who was 15 years younger with only about half of your qualifications. In this type of situation, the employer would need to prove that they had a legitimate reason that has nothing to do with age for giving the job to the other candidate. This is known as a “reasonable factor other than age” (RFOA).
- Disparate Impact: If there are hiring requirements for the job that adversely affect older employees and these requirements have nothing to do with the actual job, this would be another form of age discrimination. One example would be requiring an employee to lift 70 pounds when they are being considered for an office job in which heavy lifting is not part of their everyday work. Again, the employer would have to show that there is a reasonable factor other than age for having this requirement.
Are you a Victim of Age Discrimination in Alabama? Call Attorney Kira Fonteneau to Discuss your Case
If you believe you were not hired for a job because of your age, there are legal options that may be available to you. Be sure to document extensively your interaction with prospective employers (particularly changes in behavior and attitude after meeting them face-to-face discriminatory questions, and discriminatory requirements), then contact a skilled and knowledgeable age discrimination lawyer.
If you are in Alabama, call attorney Kira Fonteneau today at (404) 383-5720 or message us through our online contact form to schedule a free consultation and case assessment. Kira will meet with you to discuss your case and advise you of your legal rights and options.