The law protects older employees from age discrimination.
Age discrimination occurs when an employee or job applicant is treated less favorably because of his or her age. In today’s workplace, older workers often have a difficult time retaining employment, and an even harder time regaining employment after being laid off or changing jobs.
In today’s workplace, older workers often have a difficult time retaining employment, and an even harder time regaining employment after being laid off or changing jobs. Age discrimination occurs when an employee or job applicant is treated less favorably because of his or her age.
Employers sometimes set arbitrary age limits which have no connection to employees’ abilities and job performance. In some cases, employers have stated policies that call for treating older workers differently than younger workers. In other cases, employers have stated policies that are not based on age, but when applied they have the affect of treating older workers differently. Finally, many employers do not have written policies regarding age, but may engage in practices aimed at pushing older workers out.
What laws govern age discrimination in the workplace? The federal statute that governs age discrimination is the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). In New York, age discrimination is proscribed by the New York Human Rights Law.
How do these laws protect employees? The ADEA prohibits age discrimination against people who are age 40 or older. While the ADEA does not protect workers under the age of 40, some state laws do. For a violation to exist, the employer must favor a younger worker, and the larger the age disparity, the stronger the claim in most cases. Further, discrimination can occur when the supervisor, manager, or other person who mistreated an older worker is also over 40.
In what ways can an employer discriminate against an employee? Age discrimination laws apply to all types of work situations and any conduct that adversely impacts terms and conditions of employment. Actionable discrimination occurs when the employer’s action impacts any aspect of employment. That includes hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, demotions, transfers, benefits, layoffs, and any other term or condition of employment. It is also unlawful to harass an employee based on his or her age if they are not fired, demoted, etc. However, to be actionable harassment must be so severe or pervasive that it creates a hostile work environment.
What remedies are available to victims of age discrimination? The purpose of the ADEA and other laws prohibiting age discrimination is to put the victim of discrimination in the same position that he or she would have been if the discrimination had never occurred. Employees who can prove that they were subjected to unlawful age discrimination are usually entitled to one or more of the following remedies: reinstatement, backpay, front pay, compensatory damages, punitive damages, emotional damages, liquidated damages, injunctive relief, and age discrimination attorney’s fees and costs of litigation.
Do employees have to pursue their claims through administrative agencies before filing in court? Typically yes, employees must file a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) or the New York State Division of Human Rights (“NYSDHR”) before filing suit in court. When the EEOC or NYSDHR is finished investigating the charge, they will issue findings and either pursue the matter on the charging party’s behalf or issue a Notice of Right to Sue letter giving the charging party permission to file a lawsuit.
Blitman and King age discrimination attorneys provide cutting edge, practical advice for clients in the Albany, Buffalo, Manhattan, Long Island, Rochester and Syracuse NY areas.