Age Discrimination–How Do I Prove It?

October 24, 2017
The Law Firm of J.W. Stafford

Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”) was passed in 1967 to protect older workers from discrimination in the workplace. The ADEA prohibits employers from discriminating against workers who are 40 years old or older. The law does not cover employees who are younger than 40.

Workplace discrimination includes actions that have adverse employment effects, which might include recruitment, hiring, termination, salaries, benefits, job assignments, work shifts, promotions, training opportunities, and other conditions of the employment. Harassment is also considered discrimination and is unlawful.

Disparate Treatment of Older Workers

Disparate treatment refers to a clearly discriminatory decision or policy intended to adversely affect older workers. Disparate treatment claims often involve blatant actions that show a direct link between the employer’s conduct and age discrimination.

For example, forced retirement would discriminate against you once you reached that age. Your employer might have discriminated against you by inviting all employees to a job retreat except those above a certain age. That the employer specifically mentioned your age while firing you would also indicate discriminatory treatment.

Disparate Impact of Workplace Policies

Rarely do today’s employers make obviously discriminatory policies and statements. Instead, discrimination is often accomplished through seemingly neutral policies that have a disparate impact on older workers. The discriminatory effects may, in fact, be unintentional and yet the conduct may nonetheless be discriminatory.

For example, basing promotion on whether employees pass a rigorous fitness test would tend to favor younger workers. Likewise, conducting the recruitment process entirely on social media would attract younger applicants.

What are Reasonable Factors Other Than Age?

Just because a policy or action discriminates against older individuals does not mean it is illegal. An employer is not liable for discrimination that arises out of reasonable factors other than age (“RFOA”).

Using the above examples, your physical fitness would be inconsequential in an accounting or retail sales job. However, passing strict fitness standards may be crucial to a Zumba instructor, a firefighter, or even a flight attendant who must be able to successfully deal with emergency situations. Whereas your disinterest in Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn might not affect your abilities as a carpenter, an attorney, or a nurse, an employer might be able to prove that social media skills are an essential component of sales, communications or journalism position.

Proving Age Discrimination

Proving that you suffered an adverse employment result is an important first step in a discrimination case. You should then be prepared to prove that the employer did not have a valid nondiscriminatory reason for the action or policy and no RFOA.

This is where our Baltimore age discrimination lawyers can help you. We regularly pursue age discrimination claims before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) and know the procedures inside and out. We meticulously collect crucial evidence and present a clear persuasive claim that you were discriminated against because of your age. Call the Law Firm of J.W. Stafford, L.L.C. at 410-514-6099 or contact us via our website to schedule a confidential consultation today.