Age Discrimination

You have worked for an employer for many years and done a good job. You got compliments on your work, you received good performance evaluations, and you have made your employer's business profitable. And now you are being asked to train someone else for your job, someone younger. You are uncomfortable with this, but you share your job wisdom. And then, when the new employee is trained, you are told that you are no longer needed, that your job has been eliminated, and that you don't look right for the part anymore.

Older workers are often faced with this kind of treatment. The law does not permit age discrimination. Under Federal Law, the employer cannot subject you to age discrimination because you are more than 40 years old. Under New York State and New York City Law, you cannot be subjected to age discrimination if you are more than 18 years old. Age discrimination can also be triggered by harmful conduct short of firing, such as reducing your wages, changing your work schedule or work location, or denying you training. Sometimes you may suffer a hostile environment because of aged-based comments and because of false stereotypes about people your age. That is not acceptable, and it is illegal. Nor can your employer subject you to retaliation in New York State or New York City because you complain about unfair treatment based on your age.

In order to establish an age discrimination case, you would have to show at a minimum that you are older than 40 (under Federal Law) or 18 (New York State and New York City Law), that you were qualified for your position or performed satisfactorily, that despite your qualifications you were treated in an adverse manner, and that some younger than you, with the same or similar qualifications, was treated better.

For Federal Law cases, under the the Supreme Court made the employee’s burden greater in a 2008 called Gross v. FBL Financial Services, Inc. The employee saw a memo which showed that only people younger than 50 were being promoted, and only people older than 50 were being demoted. The employee was 54, and he together with 12 of his colleagues, was demoted that day. The Supreme Court dismissed the case because it said that the employee must show that adverse actions were taken solely because of his age. It was not enough that age discrimination could have been a contributing factor. This is bad news for employees who have been discriminated against because of their age. However, the legal standards under the New York City Human rights law are broader and more liberal, and an age discrimination claim which cannot survive under Federal Law has a better chance of life for employees who work in New York City.

So, it is helpful to have evidence of actual discriminatory intent. Sometimes, employers actually make ageist remarks. There are cases where the employer is on record as stereotyping people because of their age. For example, they say you are 60 years old and don’t need the stress and aggravation of the job, or that the company needs “race horses,” not “plow horses,”or that there has been a “graying” of the employees and the company needs to “go with a younger look,” or that it is good to get rid of “old heads” because the company has to make way for younger people.

Contact us online or call us at (212) 949-1001 if you think that your employer's harmful actions stem from age discrimination, and we will use our more than 25 years of experience to help you resolve the matter by negotiation or by going to court in the State of New York or New York City.

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