Pennsylvania and New Jersey workers and applicants are protected against age discrimination under federal law if they are ages 40 or older. In New Jersey, workers are also protected against age discrimination under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination regardless of their ages other than some exceptions for workers who are younger than 18 or older than 70. Pennsylvania’s Human Relations Act is similar to the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act and protects workers who are 40 or older. The attorneys at Swartz Swidler help people who have suffered age discrimination at their jobs.
Who is protected by the ADEA, the NJLAD, and the Pennsylvania HRA?
Workers who are ages 40 or older and who work at companies that have 20 or more employees are protected against age discrimination under the ADEA. These protections apply to the terms, privileges, and conditions of employment. The New Jersey LAD provides broader protections and applies to all employers in the state no matter their sizes. The law also protects younger workers in addition to those who are 40 or older. The Pennsylvania Human Relations Act covers employers that have four or more employees.
The employment relationship and age discrimination law
Employers are prohibited from discriminating against workers because of their age when they are making employment decisions about promotions, firing, hiring, compensation, layoffs, benefits, job assignments, or training. Policies that are facially neutral and that apply to all workers may be discriminatory if they disparately impact older workers and are not based on other reasonable factors.
Harassment and age discrimination law
In addition to protection against discrimination, employees who are covered by the laws are also protected from workplace harassment because of their age. This prohibition applies when the harassment is pervasive enough that it creates a hostile workplace.
There are several exceptions to the ADEA, including the following:
- Employers that have fewer than 20 employees are excepted;
- The employers had a bona fide occupational reason for choosing younger workers;
- There was a bona fide seniority system that was used to determine wages and benefits; or
- The worker was a bona fide executive or had a job involving high policymaking responsibilities.
- Protection under the ADEA applies to the following scenarios in addition to other facets of employment:
- Participation in apprentice programs
- Pre-employment inquiries
- Denial of benefits
Waiver of rights
Employees are able to waive their rights under the ADEA when they agree to a settlement offer or when they are participating in an early retirement program. To be valid, a waiver must meet the following minimum standards:
- Understandable and in writing
- Refers specifically to rights and claims under the ADEA
- Doesn’t waive future claims and rights
- Gives something of value in exchange for the waiver
- Advises the workers to talk to an attorney
- Gives the worker a minimum of 21 days to consider the waiver and 7 days to revoke it once it has been signed
There are more requirements for waivers in an early retirement program.
Filing a claim
People may file age discrimination claims under state law, federal law, or both. If the claim is filed under the ADEA, it must be filed with the EEOC within 180 days of the discriminatory act. The potential remedies include the following:
- Promotion or reinstatement
- Back pay, wages, and benefits
- Monetary Damages
- Attorney’s fees
- Injunctive relief
Contact Swartz Swidler
If you believe that your employer unlawfully discriminated against you because of your age, it is important for you to consult with an experienced employment lawyer at Swartz Swidler. Contact us today to learn about the rights that you might have.