Age discrimination occurs when an employer treats an employee differently because of their age. Unfortunately, age discrimination in the workplace is more common than most Americans would like to think. In fact, according to studies by AARP, most Americans over 45 have either experienced age discrimination themselves or have seen it happen to someone else in their workplace.
It’s important to remember that age discrimination is not confined to one area of the employer-employee relationship. It can occur in job advertisements, the interview and hiring process, as well as how employees are compensated, promoted, evaluated, demoted, trained or fired.
Fortunately, federal and state laws are in place to protect employees against discrimination. If you believe you’ve been the victim of age discrimination in the workplace, it’s recommended you contact an experienced age discrimination attorney in your area to discuss your situation.
Understanding the Employment Act of 1967
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) was passed in 1967, to hold employers accountable for discriminating against employees based on their age. The law applies to employees who are at least 40 years old, and prohibits any policies or practices that favor younger workers over older ones, as well as policies and practices that appear to be neutral on the surface but in reality have more of a negative impact on older workers.
Furthermore, the ADEA not only prohibits discrimination between employees who are under 40 and those who are over 40, but between older employees as well. For example, it is against the law for a company to hire a 45-year-old instead of a 55-year-old solely because they are younger. Although the ADEA only applies to business with 20 or more employees, Connecticut’s law prohibiting age discrimination applies to employers with 3 or more employees.Connecticut law also prohibits age discrimination against any employee regardless of their age, and its protections are not limited to employees who are 40 years of age or older.
What qualifies as age discrimination?
Understanding what qualifies as age discrimination can help you identify it when or if it occurs. Listed below are some of the most common types of age discrimination in the workplace:
- Harassment. If your boss, supervisors, or coworkers frequently make comments or joke about your age, it could be a form of age discrimination. Although this type of harassment doesn’t directly affect your income, it can make work-life difficult and it’s sometimes done with the intention that you quit. If you experience this type of harassment in the workplace, you should document who said what, the time and place, and write down the names of any witnesses who were present.
- Lack of promotions. If you stop receiving promotions because of your age or are passed over by a younger employee despite being more or equally qualified, this can be a form of age discrimination.
- Hiring. If you aren’t hired for a job you are qualified for, and you suspect it is because of your age, it may be age discrimination. Sometimes employers say things like “you’re overqualified” to discourage older workers from pursuing the job.
- Discriminatory policies. Specific policies that have a negative impact on employees based on their age old may be illegal.
- Unfair disciplinary measures. When older workers are disciplined while younger workers are let off the hook, this a form of age discrimination.
- Jobs advertisements. The ADEA makes it illegal to include age preferences in job listings unless it is a position where age is a necessary factor. Businesses sometimes use coded language in their advertisements to appeal to younger job candidates.
- Favoritism. Favoritism occurs in the workplace when older workers are laid off without a just cause, excluded from meetings or gatherings, or given the worst assignments, leads or equipment.
- Forced retirement. If you feel your company is putting pressure on you to retire because of your age, it could be a form of age discrimination.
- Underserved firing. If you are fired for no apparent reason, or a false reason, or a reason that is not believable, or your company claims the position you have no longer exists when the job duties still exist or are being performed by a younger person, it may be age discrimination.
These various types of age discrimination not only affect individual victims, but the U.S. economy as a whole. In fact, the AARP estimated that age discrimination costs the U.S. economy an estimated 850 billion dollars in 2018 alone.
How to prove age discrimination
Unfortunately, proving age discrimination is not an easy process. Since most employers won’t tell you outright that age was the reason they fired or never hired you in the first place, age discrimination is often not easy to prove and requires the assistance of an experienced attorney.
One of the most important things to remember is that if you notice age discrimination at your workplace, whether it is happening to you or another employee, you should document what’s happening in detail. Collect evidence, write down what occurred, when and where it happened, and the names of any witnesses. These notes will help you down the road if you decide to file a claim.
How Connecticut employment discrimination lawyers can help
Suing an employer for age discrimination involves first filing an administrative complaint with the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights (CHRO) and Opportunities and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), who will then investigate your complaint by contacting your employer and other witnesses. Sixty days after you file your complaint, you are legally allowed to file a lawsuit in court against your employer under the ADEA. Under Connecticut law, you can file an age discrimination lawsuit in court against your employer after obtaining a release of jurisdiction from the CHRO.
It is advisable that you obtain a qualified age discrimination lawyer in your area to guide you through the process, help you meet deadlines, and make sure all of your paperwork is accurate and on time.An experienced employment attorney will also be able to help in the process of trying to prove that the employer was motivated to act because of age, even when the employer denies the claim and insists that it was acted because of some other reason. An employment lawyer can help prove that the reason offered by the employer is false, or is not believable and that a court or a jury should find that age was the real reason for the employer’s actions.
Contact the experienced age discrimination lawyers in Connecticut
At the law offices of Madsen, Prestley & Parenteau LLC, we have been defending the rights of our clients in Hartford and New London, Connecticut for over 20 years. We focus on representing clients who have been the victim of discrimination in the workplace, and we take great pride in our work.
If you or a loved one believes you have been the victim of age discrimination in the workplace, give us a call today at (860) 246-2466 or contact us online to consult with one of our age discrimination attorneys. We look forward to speaking with you.