If you believe that you have been discriminated against by your employer because of your age, it is important for you to understand what constitutes age discrimination as well as how you can prove that it occurred. The attorneys at Swartz Swidler can review your situation and explain whether it appears that what happened was discriminatory. Here is what you should know about age discrimination.
What is age discrimination?
The law recognizes two types of age discrimination. Disparate treatment age discrimination occurs when your employer intentionally treats you negatively because of your age. Disparate impact age discrimination occurs when your employer has a facially neutral policy that has a disparately negative impact on older workers. To establish a prima facie age discrimination case under federal law, you must prove the following elements:
- You are 40 or older;
- You were qualified for the position;
- The employer acted adversely to you; and
- You were passed over in favor of someone who was much younger.
You may have different types of evidence to support your claim. While some people will have direct evidence of the age discrimination, most have to rely on circumstantial evidence. Employers are not allowed to discriminate against people who are 40 or older on the basis of their ages. Age discrimination prohibitions cover all aspects of employment, and it is likewise illegal for employers to retaliate against workers who file age discrimination complaints. Federal claims are covered by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which applies to employers that have 20 or more employees. There may also be state laws that cover your employer.
Filing an age discrimination complaint
It is important for you to gather evidence and to complete basic research before you file a complaint of age discrimination. If you choose to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, you will need to file it within 180 days of the date that you were discriminated against. After the EEOC receives your age discrimination complaint, it will conduct an investigation. The agency may then either choose to file a lawsuit for you, or it may issue you a notice of your right to sue. You are not allowed to file a lawsuit until you have received your notice from the EEOC.
Defenses that your employer might raise
The defenses that your employer might raise will depend on the circumstances. They might include the following defenses:
- There was a bona fide reason for the decision based on the business’s operation;
- The employer acted because of a reasonable factor other than your age;
- The employer’s action was because of a business necessity; or
- The employer’s action was necessary for it to comply with a bona fide benefit plan or seniority system.
If you are able to prove that your employer engaged in unlawful age discrimination, you can recover compensation. The types of damages that you might recover include lost wages, job search costs and other related expenses. You might also be able to recover punitive damages and attorney’s fees. Under some state laws, you may also recover compensation for any emotional distress that you suffered. You will need to try to mitigate your damages by searching for work.
Waivers of rights
Some employers ask their employees to waive their rights as part of their severance agreements, including their rights to file age discrimination complaints. To be valid, waivers must adhere to stringent requirements. If you have been presented with a waiver or have already signed one, it is important for you to contact the attorneys at Swartz Swidler as soon as possible.
You will also need to meet the filing deadlines and the claims process to file an age discrimination complaint. Filing a complaint will also necessitate that you gather evidence and present it properly. Getting help from the attorneys at Swartz Swidler might make it likelier for you to prevail. Call us today to schedule a consultation.