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Age discrimination is illegal in the US. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA; 29 U.S.C. § 621 to 29 U.S.C. § 634) forbids an employer from discriminating against employees older than 40. Additionally, several state laws prohibit discrimination due to age against younger individuals.
In this post, we will shed light on this topic. Employers will learn what they can do to avoid being sued. Also, workers will learn about the steps they can take if they feel their employers are discriminating against because of their age.
RELATED ARTICLE: DEALING WITH WORKPLACE DISCRIMINATION
Age Discrimination: An Overview
This problem can occur for workers in different stages of employment. For instance, an employer can discriminate against an employee during hiring, training, career progression, benefits, and termination.
Employers also must not harass employees because of their age. For example, they can’t make derogatory or offensive remarks about a person’s age. Of course, not every offhand comment or instance of teasing is illegal. However, direct and continuous harassment because of someone’s age is against the law.
Examples of Age Discrimination
You will better understand work-related discrimination due to age by looking at some examples.
Use of Inappropriate Language
If you’re an older worker, do you often hear derogatory words such as “old whippersnapper,” “lazy bear,” “oldie,” and others? Such terms are considered age discrimination. Therefore, you can file a case against an employer if he or she uses these words at the workplace. That’s because using these words creates an age-related stereotype for which the employer will be held liable.
Imposing Job Requirements That Are Too Harsh for Older Workers
A case of indirect discrimination occurs if the employer imposes unfair requirements for an older worker. For example, if the employer requires an older worker to carry heavy loads or work during cold months, the actions can be considered indirect discrimination.
Encouraging an Older Employee to Take Early Retirement
Employers cannot encourage an employee to take early retirement. If the employer forces an employee to retire early, the older worker can sue the employer. However, employers can offer incentive packages to older workers when they are close to the retirement age.
Denying Benefits to Older Workers
The Older Workers Benefit Protection Act offers protection to older individuals regarding employee benefit plans. The law requires employers to pay the same benefits to older workers as they provide to younger workers.
However, there are certain complexities related to the federal law, and there are exceptions in some situations. For instance, an employer doesn’t have to offer similar benefits if the older employee receives government benefits. Also, the law makes an exception when the employer makes up the difference in coverage by providing additional benefits.
Have you been subjected to discrimination because of your age during the hiring process or in the workplace?
If so, you should contact an experienced age-discrimination attorney. That’s because a lawyer who specializes in this field will help you collect evidence that can incriminate your employer beyond a reasonable doubt.
Signs Your Employer Could be Discriminating Against You Because of Your Age
Employers are firing older workers or offering them buyouts. Then they’re hiring younger workers. Employers commonly refer to this practice as “culture fit.” Your employer might be discriminating against you if:
- He or she has reassigned you to unpleasant duties.
- You are hearing tacky comments about your age.
- You no longer get raises.
- Your performance reviews have tanked.
Age Discrimination Can Be Costly for Corporations
Age-discrimination claims and lawsuits are among the most costly and time-consuming losses facing corporations.
Jury Awards More Than $800,000 in Age-Discrimination Case
Winning an age-discrimination lawsuit is challenging. However, a recent case in Pennsylvania proves it is not impossible. A jury in federal court in Pittsburgh has awarded a 62-year-old former county jail officer more than $800,000 in an age-discrimination lawsuit.
The lawsuit alleged that the jail officer was the victim of a new warden’s “housecleaning” of older employees. The warden fired the jail officer in August 2013 when the officer was 58 years old and had 30 years of service with the county. The new warden gave the jail officer the choice of either resigning or being fired. When the jail officer refused to resign, the warden fired him.
Jury Awards $51 Million in Age-Discrimination Lawsuit Against Lockheed Martin
A former Lockheed Martin engineer, who sued for age discrimination after the company laid him off at age 66, was awarded $51.6 million by a jury in a federal court in New Jersey. This may be the highest amount an individual has ever been awarded in an age-discrimination case. Moreover, it stands as a stark reminder that age discrimination remains a big—and potentially very expensive—issue for HR.
Two Former United Airlines Employees Awarded $800,000 in Age-Discrimination Suit
Two former United Airlines flight attendants who claimed age discrimination for being fired were awarded $800,000 in damages by a federal jury in Denver, their lawyer said.
Jennie Stroup, a United employee for 30 years, and Rubin Lee, a 41-year veteran of the airline, were fired in 2013. They sued their former employer in June of 2015 in U.S. District Court in Denver.
Age Discrimination Is Illegal
Age discrimination is illegal at any stage of employment, including during hiring, promotions, raises, and layoffs.
Getting the help of an attorney who specializes in this field will help you save time and effort in filing a court case. The attorney can also help you get the maximum possible compensation.