Employment Discrimination Lawyer for Age Discrimination

Employment Discrimination Lawyer for Age Discrimination

Under Federal and New York State Law, an employer cannot discriminate against a job applicant or employee on the basis of their age. This includes a decision to fire, promote, lay off, pay, or determine work assignments.

Discrimination can include seemingly neutral business policies that disproportionately harm older employees, as well as harassment. A Long Island employment discrimination lawyer can help victims of this type of discrimination recover front pay and compensatory damages.

1. Circumstantial Evidence

In cases of age discrimination, it is important to document the incidents as best you can in case further legal action is necessary. For example, written documentation such as emails can be useful evidence. Also, if possible, it is helpful to find witnesses who can provide statements in your favor.

Circumstantial evidence is not as strong as direct evidence, but it can still be sufficient to prove your case. For instance, if your employer fires several older employees and then hires a wave of younger workers, this can be evidence that your employer is engaging in age discrimination.

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Another piece of circumstantial evidence is a policy that appears neutral but actually disproportionately harms older employees, such as requiring physical fitness tests for all new workers. Your Long Island employment attorney can examine these types of policies and determine if they violate age discrimination laws.

2. Direct Evidence

Direct evidence is the best form of proof and includes comments from supervisors or co-workers that indicate age bias. It also involves company policies that are clear in their discriminatory intent. For instance, if a supervisor writes you up for being 30 minutes late to work and they never write up a younger employee for the same reason it is likely an indication of age bias.

Circumstantial evidence can be just as powerful in an age discrimination case, especially if there is enough of it to show that your employer has a habit of mistreating older employees. For example, if your boss excludes you from weekly lunches or training programs it is a strong piece of circumstantial evidence that they are discriminating on the basis of age.

3. Disparate Treatment

The federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and other state and local laws prohibit discrimination based on age. It is illegal for employers to consider an employee’s age in hiring, promotion, pay, benefits, training, firing, and other terms and conditions of employment. Disparate treatment is a type of indirect discrimination and typically involves employment policies that appear neutral but disproportionately harm individuals in protected classes without mentioning those characteristics specifically.

Examples of disparate treatment include questions about when the individual plans to retire, comments about youthful appearance, assigning non-desirable shifts and hours, and reducing access to overtime work. It also includes not choosing a job applicant for an interview because of the name, perceived gender, schools attended, or geographic area where they live.

4. Retaliation

Aside from retaliation for exercising a legal right, age discrimination laws also prohibit retaliation against employees who report or participate in any way in an investigation or litigation concerning an employer’s employment practices. This includes filing an age discrimination complaint with the EEOC, NYSDHR, or CHRL, as well as testifying in a court case regarding your workplace experiences.

Retaliation can include repeated questions about your upcoming retirement, comments about your youthful appearance, passing over you for a promotion and hiring a younger worker, forcing you to retire, or changing your job duties or work schedule. Other forms of retaliation can include being kept out of meetings or training, being reassigned to shifts that cause undue hardship, or reducing or eliminating overtime.

An experienced age discrimination attorney can determine whether you have a valid claim for retaliation under federal, New York state, and/or city employment law. These laws protect workers 40 years of age and older with respect to employment, compensation, benefits, promotions, firing, layoffs, or any other term or condition of employment.

5. Damages

Under federal age discrimination laws, older workers are protected from direct or indirect discrimination. This includes hiring decisions, promotions, pay, layoffs, transfers, and benefits. New York state law and the city’s anti-discrimination laws go even further, protecting workers starting at 18 years old.

Discrimination can cause emotional distress, as well as financial harm. For instance, a wrongful firing can lead to lost paychecks, causing stress on families and impacting retirement plans.

In addition to back and front pay, employees may be entitled to liquidated damages (if the EEOC determines the employer’s action was willful) and attorney fees. Punitive damages are also available under state and local anti-discrimination laws, though they vary by state. Your attorney will discuss these options with you in detail.

6. Expert Witnesses

Expert witnesses are invaluable in employment-related cases. They can assist with matters such as labor law, wrongful termination, job search skills training and future employability analysis.

Discrimination based on age rarely occurs in a vacuum, especially when an employer institutes new policies that affect a large group of employees. This is why an experienced employment discrimination lawyer must review all the relevant evidence to identify patterns of behavior and show where the employer is relying on pretext to take illegal action.

An attorney may also hire an independent investigator to conduct a full investigation of the company, including all relevant documents and interviewing employees. This will help the lawyer spot any evidence of age discrimination and prove it to a jury. In addition, there are laws in place that protect whistleblowers who come forward and report illegal practices by their employers.

7. Time Limits

The federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits discrimination based on age at any stage of the employment process including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoffs, benefits and other terms and conditions of employment. The law also prohibits employers from using age limitations in advertisements for available jobs or in the application process. The only exception to this is if the employer can prove that age requirements are a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ) based on business necessity.

Despite the fact that it is illegal for an employer to fire, demote or otherwise treat an employee negatively because of their age, it still happens. This is why it is important to contact an experienced employment discrimination lawyer as soon as you suspect you may be a victim of age discrimination.


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