Age is Still Just a Number

September 19, 2018

Similar to discrimination based on sex or race, age discrimination is illegal. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), prohibits discrimination in any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, job assignments, pay, promotions, benefits, layoff, training, and any other condition or term of employment. Despite the ADEA, age discrimination is still prevalent in the workplace. Here are some strategies you can use to avoid falling victim to age discrimination in the workplace.

Take Notes

Based on a 2009 U.S. Supreme Court decision, plaintiffs must meet a high burden of proof for age discrimination. The clearest indicator of intentional discrimination is when an employee demonstrates that an employer is acting because of a belief that a worker has diminished capacity because of the worker’s age, says Patricia Barnes, author of Overcoming Age Discrimination in Employment. “I always advise keeping some kind of notebook about each incident, who was there and how it made you feel,” says Barnes. Establishing a pattern of discrimination becomes much easier when you have everything in writing.

Get Help

Human resources employees are trained to detect age discrimination, but keep in mind that they work for your employer. You can file a complaint with your human resources department, who in turn will talk with your supervisor and this situation may or may not be to your advantage. You have the right to consult an attorney to see if you have a valid case. You can also reach out to your local Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) office to learn how to file a charge.

Work Together

If others at your job were laid off or you suspect age discrimination, consider working together to pursue legal action. This can help you minimize costs and give you leverage during negotiations.

Winning is Tough, but Possible

A jury awarded a former Staples employee compensatory and punitive damages as a result of an employment discrimination case. The employee was a manager at Corporate Express before its acquisition by Staples in 2008. The lawsuit accused managers at Staples of harassing and discriminating against the employee because of his age. He was called “old goat” and was often laughed at by the staff during company meetings. Continued harassment including a suspension for taking a bell pepper worth 50 cents eventually led to his termination in 2011. The jury ultimately found in favor of the plaintiff-employee and awarded him $26 million.

Be Tech Savvy

You don’t have to be a computer programmer to excel at your job (unless of course your job is programming computers). However, most people should know how to use technology to make their jobs easier and become more effective employees. It is important to become comfortable with the abundance of technological resources at your disposal. Read online articles and blogs to stay current. Taking online courses or webinars demonstrates that you can still excel at work, regardless of your age.

Contact OC Estate and Elder law at (954) 251-0332 or to learn more about your rights and any other elder law issues that you may face.