Do you believe that you have suffered from age discrimination at work? Do you think you have evidence to back up your claim? If so, you may be able to take legal action against your employer, someone at work or another organization that has been discriminating against you. However that is easier said than done. The obstacles, both real and apparent, that lie in the path of any employee who is aiming to file a claim can be sufficiently great to dissuade the majority of affected employees without help from an employment lawyer.
A claim for age discrimination can be successful, but it does require obtaining convincing evidence that real discrimination as classed by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).The whole process can be emotionally stressful as most claimants are worried about the effect of the action their job and future job prospects.
What is Age Discrimination?
Age discrimination is any type of unfavorable treatment of an employee because of their age. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) is the main federal legislation covering age discrimination, although most states have similar laws that protect older people in particular from being unfavorably treated or harassed at work.
Age discrimination as defined by the ADEA as any form of discrimination in a workplace against an employee who is over 40 years old. The Act does not cover age discrimination against an employee younger than 40. The age discrimination can still be considered if both the person discriminating and the person being discriminated against are both over 40.
The term ‘discrimination’ according to the ADEA, applies to:
- hiring and firing;
- benefits and pay;
- job expectations and assignments;
- access to training;
- any other employment terms and conditions.
The ADEA also makes it illegal to harass an employee because of their age if the amount of harassment is so severe or continuous that it creates a hostile work environment or causes a negative work outcome, such as demotion or firing.
The Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) is the federal agency that is in charge of enforcing the law as it applies to age discrimination. Employees who wish to file a claim against their employer would be expected to address their grievances with the EEOC first before filing a formal ‘Charge of Discrimination.’
Put Your Complaints in Writing
You won’t have any luck suing your employer or even convincing the EEOC to take up your case if you haven’t any solid evidence to back up your claim of age discrimination. Hearsay evidence is not enough. If you have been discriminated because of your age, you should record the details as carefully as possible immediately after the incident occurs. Record what has been said, or what action has been taken, why you think it is discriminatory, what you did about it at the time, the date, time, etc.
If you have received any hard evidence such as emails, text messages, anything in writing, then make sure you keep copies of them and preferably back them up by making hard copy versions.
You may be able to record any conversations you have had with anyone who has acted in a discriminatory manner. Many cell phones have voice recorder functions and if you believe you are about to have an experience that reinforces the fact that you have been discriminated against then use your voice recorder to record the interchange.
You may be able to get statements from colleagues or other employees who have witnessed the sort of discrimination you have experienced and are prepared to provide evidence.
When you think that you have been harassed or discriminated against because of your age, check your employer’s work agreement or company policy if there is one to see if there is any procedure you can use to bring up your complaint. This may be difficult if you think it might compromise your job in any way. Explore any avenue available and document your attempts to tackle the age discrimination with your HR department or employer directly. You are more likely to get a favorable response from the EEOC if you have followed these steps before you file a claim with them.
How an Employment Lawyer Can Help
Before you file a claim with the EEOC or at any further stage, it is sensible to contact an employment law attorney. The attorney will consider your complaint and assess your chances of winning a claim against your employer.
If he/she thinks you have strong grounds for winning a claim, then you will be given legal advice about submitting a claim and what you should claim in compensation as well as help throughout the claim process.
Fill out the free evaluation form here.