What To Look For When You’ve Been Discriminated Against Due To Age
In a perfect world, we would be judged for our skills and experience, not our age. But the truth is that people are judged by their age every day, even in employment situations. It’s a catch-22. Employers want workers with a ton of experience, but they also want a young workforce.
They can’t always have it both ways, and what usually happens is that younger employees get favored over the older ones. This is called age discrimination, and while younger workers may experience discrimination as well, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) only protects those over the age of 40.
Age discrimination has become more and more common in recent years as many Baby Boomers have returned to the workforce to earn more money in retirement. Make sure you are aware of the signs so you can file a claim against your employer, if necessary.
Do you think you have faced discrimination in the workplace due to your age? If so, a Schaumburg age discrimination lawyer can assess your case.
What is Age Discrimination?
Age discrimination in the workplace is against federal law. It refers to treating an applicant or employee differently because of their age. It is illegal to harass or discriminate against a person simply because they are older. The law protects those over the age of 40. It does not protect workers who are younger than 40. Discrimination can still occur if the harasser and victim are both over the age of 40.
The law applies to companies with at least 20 employees, as well as employment agencies, labor organizations, and government agencies (local, state, and federal). It prohibits age discrimination in all aspects of employment, which may include hiring, firing, layoff, training, pay, benefits, and promotions. Protections also include:
- Job ads. It is illegal to include age limits or preferences in job ads unless it is a “bona fide occupational qualification” to perform the job duty, but that is a very rare situation.
- Pre-employment inquiries. While it is not illegal for an employer to ask a job applicant for their age or date of birth, such questions may deter older workers from applying for a job, so there must be a good reason to ask these questions.
- Apprenticeship programs. Apprenticeship programs are not allowed to discriminate due to someone’s age unless the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) grants an exemption.
Examples of Age Discrimination
In the workplace, it can be hard to determine whether or not an action is age-related. Here are some common examples of age discrimination:
- Disproportionately hiring young employees. Employees should be hired based on their skills and qualifications. Age should not be a factor, so when a company hires only workers of a certain age (such as under age 30), then that could be considered age-based discrimination. Employers may reject older candidates by stating that they are “overqualified.”
- Little opportunity for advancement. If all the promotions are going to younger workers who have been at the company for a limited amount of time, then age could be at play. Unfortunately, promotions for workers over the age of 40 are hard to come by.
- Laying off only older workers. When there is a need to reduce staff due to economic reasons, age should not be a factor. However, it is not uncommon for older workers to be targeted because they are often paid the most and have the best benefits.
- Workplace harassment. All employees should feel welcome in the workplace. When supervisors or co-workers constantly harass and tease older employees, it can make them feel unwelcome. The harassment may become so pervasive that it becomes a hostile work environment, to the point where the older worker is forced to quit their job.
- False accusations. Older employees are often falsely accused of poor performance or misconduct. This is likely because they are “old” and the employer is looking to get rid of them.
Signs That You Have Faced Discrimination
Do you think you might be a victim of age discrimination? Here are some ways to tell:
- Reassignment. The ideal job would have you continue learning and growing. If you’re suddenly getting assigned to different jobs, it may be a sign that your employer wants you to quit.
- Only younger workers are getting hired. Workplaces tend to have a culture, and for some, that culture may involve hiring young workers (under the age of 30) and getting rid of the older ones. This is a huge red flag.
- Cracks about your age. If your boss suddenly starts making wisecracks about your age or playfully asks when you will retire, it’s likely he has your exit on his mind. Your employer is trying to get an idea of your future plans so they can determine their next steps to get you to leave. If you plan to stick around a while, make it known so that your boss isn’t trying to get you to retire before you’re ready.
- There are no more promotions or raises. If you’re used to regular raises but they suddenly stop for no clear reason, then your boss may be giving pay increases to the younger workers. Similarly, if you got passed over for a promotion and it was given to a newbie who has been with the company for just a couple of months, then something is wrong.
- Your performance reviews have changed. If you used to be the star employee but now the reviews show that you’re less than stellar, and you’re not given a good reason why something is amiss. Your boss may be trying to find ways to get rid of you. This is a serious issue, so start compiling evidence and hire a lawyer right away.
Contact an Age Discrimination Lawyer in Schaumburg
Age discrimination can be hurtful, especially when it comes to employment. Many employers favor younger workers, even though older workers are very beneficial to companies due to their skills and life experience.
Get help from an age discrimination lawyer in Schaumburg. The team at North Suburban Legal Services can help you understand the rights and protections that you have. Call (312) 909-6089 to schedule a free consultation.