As the American public ages—the average life expectancy was estimated to be over 79 in 2022—more than 150 million jobs will shift to workers over the age of 55 by 2030. This drastic change in the demographics of the modern workplace means that recognizing age discrimination in the workplace will become more important as the years go by. If you believe your current or former employer has discriminated against you because of your age, know that you have rights as well as a recourse for justice.
Your Rights Under the ADEA and in New York
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) prohibits employment discrimination against persons 40 years of age or older. This protects you at the federal level from being discriminated against in your workplace. You don’t need a Notice of Right to Sue to file a lawsuit in court, and you can file a lawsuit in court any time after 60 days have passed from the day you filed your charge.
You can also file an age discrimination lawsuit at the state level in the state in which you reside. In New York, age discrimination complaints can be filed with The New York State Division of Human Rights. The complaint must be filed within one year of the alleged discriminatory act. According to your right in NYS, the following can be examples of discrimination based on age:
- Refusal to hire
- Denial of promotion
- Give you different terms and conditions for employment, including salary
- Denial of apprentice programs
- Place you on a separate seniority, layoff, or recall list
Additionally, no union or labor organization may deny you benefits, services, or membership based on your age, nor can an employment agency refuse you service, including job referrals. There are some jobs and companies that are exempt from the ADEA discrimination policies, which can include:
- Small businesses fewer than 20 employees
- Jobs with bona fide occupational qualifications (airline pilots, police officers etc.)
- Executive or high policymaker positions
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The Signs of Age Discrimination at Work
Just because you have an unpleasant experience at work does not mean you have been the victim of age discrimination, but there are some common signs of age discrimination in the workplace that you should be able to recognize. These can include:
- A pattern of older workers being let go and younger workers being hired. This can be a sign that your employer is replacing their aging workforce with younger people.
- Negative stereotyping: if you constantly hear coworkers or superiors talk about older workers being “out of touch,” “technologically challenged,” or “resistant to change,” this is a sign that you are being targeted solely because of your age.
- Reduced or unpleasant responsibilities: are you being assigned the worst work in the office? Has your workload or hours been severely reduced? Some employers try to force older employees to quit by giving them the worst possible tasks.
- Exclusion from training or advancement: if your younger coworkers are consistently and unjustifiably being promoted over you, or if you are not being given the same opportunities to learn, grow, and expand your skillset, you may be experiencing some bias because of your age. This can also be the case if you have stopped getting pay increases while everyone around you is consistently being given raises or new benefits.
- Isolation: does it seem like you are being ignored at work, pushed to the side, excluded from contributing to projects, or left out of meetings?
- Excessive attention: to the contrary of feeling isolated, does it feel like you are being closely monitored by a superior or your other coworkers? Has someone been assigned to specifically work with you, check your work, or take responsibilities away from you?
- Inconsistent policies, or inconsistently enforced policies: pay attention to the policies in place at work. Does it seem like policies have been put into place that only impact you or other workers at your age? Even if the policy doesn’t inherently single you out, does it seem like the enforcement of the policy only impacts you?
- Unfair discipline: are you being excessively or exclusively disciplined at work, even for things that other people are also doing?
- Unexplained job transfers or elimination of your position: have you been moved around frequently at your job, or has your position been inexplicably eliminated?
Have You Experienced Age Discrimination at Work?
If you believe you have experienced discrimination in your workplace because of your age, you do have legal recourse, and you could be able to recover damages that include:
- Loss of income, both current and future
- Out-of-pocket expenses related to looking for a job (e.g., mileage costs for driving to interviews)
- Medical expenses if applicable
- Pain and suffering and inconvenience
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment in life
- Psychological trauma
- Legal fees (e.g., reimbursement for attorney’s fees, court fees, and expert witness fees)
It’s important to begin taking note of the things that are happening to you in your workplace. Gathering information can be crucial to winning your case, so make sure to record and document any evidence you have regarding the discrimination you are facing, this can include:
- Saving job performance records, reports, or any other documentation
- Saving emails that you have exchanged with coworkers and superiors
- Gathering witness statements from anyone who may have seen discrimination taking place
Know that you have people at your side who can help you. Our experienced workplace discrimination attorneys have helped our clients fight back against workplace injustice. We can help you piece together a strong case that will help you reclaim your rights and get the compensation you deserve. If you or a loved one have experienced age discrimination in the workplace, get in touch with us today.