If you believe that you have been discriminated against in your workplace and you are over 40, you have the right to file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). This is the federal body that enforces the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). Federal and most state laws make it illegal to discriminate against an employee because of their age at work if they are more than 40 years old.
You need to be well prepared with evidence that you have been discriminated against and that you have already complained officially to your employer. Lack of evidence is the most common reason for losing a claim. Below are four useful checklist tips to follow when filing a claim against an employer for age discrimination.
Tip 1: File a Complaint
If you think you have been discriminated against because of your age, or you have been consistently harassed or bullied because of your age, you should first take it up with your employer directly. There may be an easy way for the discrimination to stop or be reversed. You could contact the HR department or work through your union representative, if there is one.
You should make a formal complaint in writing to your employer if you get nowhere with initial complaints. It is important evidence for any future claim against your employer that you have evidence that you have written a formal letter of complaint. Make sure you keep a copy of the complaint letter and any response by your employer.
Tip 2: Keep All Evidence Handy
If there are incidents that occur which you believe demonstrates that you are being discriminated against, make sure you document them. Keep a record of when they occurred, where they occurred and what exactly happened. If there is any investigation by the EEOC or by an attorney, it will help if you can record exactly what was said or what action was taken and the exact circumstances in which the event took place.
If you have witnesses to incidences of discrimination who are prepared to make a statement, then these will also be valuable evidence if you decide to file a claim later.
Remember to keep any emails, hard copy correspondence and telephone messages which you think demonstrates discriminatory actions made against you. Make a hard copy record if you can of any of this evidence.
Tip 3: Know Your Rights
Federal and, in many cases, state legislation, is in force which specifically prohibits age discrimination in the workplace. This legislation not only makes it illegal for employers, supervisors or other employees to treat a worker unfavorably simply because of their age, it also makes it illegal to harass or bully someone at work because of their age.
The federal anti-age discrimination law is the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (1967) (ADEA). One drawback of this act is that it only applies to private employers who employ more than 20 employees or government employees. State laws on age discrimination often apply to employers with fewer employees.
The ADEA makes it illegal for employers of more than 20 employees to discriminate against one of their employees because of their age as long as they are older than 40. By age discrimination it means any unfavorable treatment of an employee simply because of their age. That might include pay, benefits, hiring and firing, access to training, promotion, job expectations and assignments and any other terms and conditions of employment. Bullying and harassment, if they are serious, and are age related, are also illegal.
Tip 4: Seek Professional Help
If you have followed the process above and have got nowhere e.g. your employer or whoever it was at work who was actively discrimination against you were continuing to did so, then your next step would be to consider filing a claim with the EEOC. It would be wise to talk to an employment law attorney before you did so to make sure you are on the right track. The attorney can assess the evidence you have collected and give you a professional opinion about your chances of successfully suing your employer.