Age discrimination can happen on both sides of the scale, to both young and old alike. In general, employers are not permitted to hire, fire, promote, demote or calculate wages based upon an employee’s age. Unfortunately, determining whether a employer’s decision was the result of ageism can be difficult to conclude.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act, is a federal law, that protects individuals age 40 and older from age discrimination. Some examples of ageism could include not being hired because someone didn’t look young enough or a situation where an employee was terminated because the employer wanted someone younger at the position.
Another example includes someone failing to get a promotion and the employer went with someone significantly younger with less experience. As a final example, there’s a case of company layoffs, targets were generally older employees with more experience as opposed to younger staff.
The ADEA is applicable to employers who have 20 or more employees. An employee may still have a claim under state laws, if his or her employer has less than 20 employees. However, not all older workers are covered by the ADEA. For example, if someone was required to retire at 65, and would receive an annual pension of over $44,000.
Another such example would be, if youth was an essential requirement for the job (“bona fide occupational qualification”). For instance, someone was playing the role of a high school student, and now he or she is and looks 30 years old.
The ADEA only protects someone from age discrimination. Which means, for example, being turned down for a job because you were “overqualified,” would not be a basis for a claim. An example would be if someone applied for a position as a cashier, and was turned down because he or she had a college degree, and the employer was concerned about a fast turnover.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is responsible for investigating ADEA claims. Claims, however, can be difficult to prove. In the 2009 Supreme Court case of Gross v. FBL. Financial Services, Inc., the Court held that age must be the sole reason of why the person was discriminated against.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of age discrimination, you should explore all avenues. Speaking with an experienced employment law attorney can help you learn more about your rights as it relates to filing an EEOC claim.
Source: Workplace Fairness, “Age discrimination,” accessed Jan. 20, 2017