Claims of Age Discrimination on the Rise
Complaints filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) have risen 30 percent in the past two decades. In fact, a recent New York Times article detailed the story of two multi decades-long female professors at Ohio State University who recently filed age discrimination claims against their former employer. Both retired short of their full-time retirement benefits. According to AARP, it is not uncommon for employers to try to save money by getting rid of workers who have higher salaries and more expensive benefits – not surprisingly, these are usually more tenured (and older) employees.
Age Discrimination in Employment Act
Federal law protects job applicants, as well as current employees, from age discrimination in the workplace. This law specifically covers companies with more than 20 employees. The prohibition of discrimination – or biased treatment – based on age applies to all matters regarding decisions relating to employment, including hiring, firing, layoffs, promotions, salary and other conditions of employment. It should not be misunderstood that law prevents someone from being fired at all. Instead, if age is the sole factor in that decision, it is illegal. It is important to know that the burden of proving age – and not some other legitimate business reason – was the basis for the decision is placed on the former employee.
Moreover, the law does not forbid employers from asking a potential hire for his or her date of birth. That being said, because these types of questions often discourage older workers from applying – or have an implication of an intent to discriminate – they should only be asked for lawful purposes. On the other hand, the law does forbid an employer from assigning work to an employee based on his or her age – even if the employer believes the work assignment is beneficial for the workers.
How to File a Claim
An individual who experiences age discrimination at the workplace and wishes to pursue legal action must file a claim with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). This must be done within 180 days from the date the victim became aware of the age discrimination. Once a discrimination claim is initiated, the EEOC will try to settle the matter through mediation. Mediation is often an effective way of resolving disputes between parties without the need to go to court; it involves an independent third party, known as the mediator – who facilitates both sides coming to a reasonable agreement. If mediation proves to be unsuccessful, the EEOC conducts an investigation. Should the EEOC find a “reasonable cause” that discrimination occurred, it will attempt mediation for a second time. Should this mediation fail as well, the EEOC may take legal action on behalf of the victim. If a resolution of the matter has not passed in six months, the employment discrimination victim may request a “right-to-sue” letter from the EEOC and proceed with private litigation. He or she also has the right to any information discovered and collected during the EEOC’s investigation.
New York Age Discrimination Lawyers
If you believe you have been discriminated against because your age – or have received biased treatment by an employer based on any other protected status – contact the seasoned employment discrimination lawyers in NY at Ricotta & Marks, P.C. today. With years of experience representing victims of discrimination across the State of New York, our lawyers will help guide you through every step of this process. Call (347)-464-8694 today for your free initial case evaluation.