What laws cover age discrimination at work?
Age discrimination is one of the most common forms of illegal employment discrimination. A key federal law, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against employees who are 40 years and older. Likewise, many states and local municipalities have laws that make age discrimination unlawful as well. It is important to consult with an experienced age discrimination lawyer to understand your legal options.
How do I prove age discrimination at my job?
- they belong to a protected class (over 40 years old)
- they applied for and were qualified for a job for which the employer was seeking applicants
- despite their qualifications they were rejected
- the position remained open after their rejection and the employer continued to seek applicants similar to their qualifications.
The employer must then show a legitimate reason for the taking the employment action. In response, an employee can show by preponderance of the evidence that the legitimate reasons offered by the employer were not its true reason, but were a pretext for discrimination.
Approximately 1 in 5 discrimination charges received by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) are age discrimination claims, and in 2020 the EEOC received over 14,000 age discrimination charges.
What employers does the ADEA apply to?
The ADEA applies to private employers with 20 or more employees, state and local governments, employment agencies, labor organizations and the federal government.
What remedies are available for age discrimination?
- Back pay damages for wages lost due to the harassment
- liquidated damages in the same amount as the lost wages
- Reasonable attorney’s fees
Note that the ADEA does not provide for emotional distress damages (also referred to as compensatory damages) or punitive damages designed to punish the employer for especially reckless or malicious harassment. However, state and local anti-discrimination laws may allow you to recover these types of damages. Talk with an experienced age discrimination lawyer to help maximize your potential damages.
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