What Is Age Discrimination?
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) is a federal law that prohibits discrimination based on age for employees age 40 and over. Unlike Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the ADEA generally applies to private employers of 20 or more employees, rather than just 15 or more employees. Discrimination on the basis of age can occur through an employer’s decisions regarding hiring, firing, promotion, demotion, interviewing, performance evaluations, compensation, or any other terms or conditions of employment. For example, it may be discriminatory for an employer subject to the ADEA to hire younger workers for less money or because they assume that they will be more technologically adept to perform the duties of a job position over an older employee.
Is it legal for an employer to ask your age?
There are legal restrictions as to when and where an employer may ask for an employee’s age or date of birth. For instance, it would be unlawful for an employer to put specific age requirements in their job ads, unless it is shown to be reasonably necessary to the operation of the business. Additionally, asking for a job candidate’s age as part of a pre-employment interviewing or screening process could possibly show an employer’s intent to discriminate based on age by excluding older workers from applying for the position, unless such age information is needed for a lawful purpose. Illegal age discrimination may also be found if there is an employer policy or practice that has a disparate or disproportionate impact on their employees over 40 years old.
Harassment because of a person’s age is also unlawful under the ADEA, which can include offensive or derogatory remarks about one’s age that are frequent or severe enough to create a hostile work environment or that result in an adverse employment action. Like most other anti-discrimination laws, the ADEA and the Texas Labor Code prohibit an employer from retaliating against an employee for filing an age discrimination claim against them or opposing any of their practices that discriminate on the basis of age, among other reasons. While the ADEA protects discrimination against individuals who are 40 years of age or older for applicable employers, it is not illegal for employers to discriminate against people under 40 years old on the basis of their age.
What do I do if I think I am being discriminated against because of my age?
Proving an age discrimination claim can be difficult, as it is unlikely that an employer will simply admit to an employee’s age as being the reason for their firing or other adverse action. Documentation of specific events and comments made in the workplace that show discrimination against older employees can go a long way towards generating a successful age discrimination claim. Winning an age discrimination claim could result in compensation for court and attorney’s fees, pain and suffering damages, lost wages and benefits, and other punitive and compensatory damages. Also, an employee that is wrongfully terminated because of their age can have their job reinstated. Prior to filing an age discrimination lawsuit, an employee must file a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and/or Texas Workforce Commission (TWC).
What should you do if you feel you are the victim of Age Discrimination?
If you are unsure if you have been discriminated against because of your age, reach out to an experienced employment lawyer like Ross Scalise Employment Lawyers in Texas. Age Discrimination does not always look obvious and employment lawyers are there to answer any questions you may have.