One of the very few things that everyone has in common is aging. No one can avoid getting older and the changes that come with age. However, age is not a reason to discriminate against an employee.
What Is Age Discrimination?
Age discrimination is when an employee is treated in such a way that adversely impacts their terms of employment because of their age. This discrimination is illegal in ANY phase of employment, including:
- Writing Job Descriptions
- Determining Salary
- Determining Benefits
- Determining Job Assignments
Under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, federal law makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against an employee due to their age if they are 40 and older. However, in New York, The New York Human Rights Law prohibits age discrimination for any individual who is 18 years or older for any employer who had four employees or more.
Examples Of Age Discrimination
In any discrimination case, it can be difficult for the victim to determine if they are being discriminated against even if their gut is telling them that something isn’t right. Just a few examples of age discrimination include:
- A long-time employee who isn’t promoted, however, a younger, less experienced employee is given the promotion.
- A company who doesn’t allow older employees to enter into training programs.
- Companies who hire based on how “young” an employee looks.
- When layoffs occur, all employees who were let go are older than a certain age.
Is An Employer Allowed To Ask How Old I Am?
Yes, there is no law which prevents an employer from asking how old a job applicant or employee is.
What Should I Do If I Believe I’ve Been Discriminated Against Because Of My Age?
There are steps that every New York employee who believes that they have been discriminated against should take:
It’s important to keep records that could later prove that age discrimination occurred. This can include pay stubs, performance reviews, disciplinary notices, text messages, emails, voicemails, and even witness statements. It’s also a good idea to begin taking notes of the details, dates, and times that the alleged discrimination took place.
File A Complaint With The Division Of Human Rights
If you file a complaint with the Division Of Human Rights, they will begin an investigation. According to the department, once a complaint has been filed, the division will notify all involved parties, forward a copy of the complaint to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and then investigate using written inquiry, field investigations, and conferences. If it is determined that discrimination did occur, the case will then undergo a public hearing.
Contact A Lawyer
Even before filing a complaint with the Division Of Human Rights, contacting an attorney is a good idea. An attorney can review the case, assist with filing a complaint, and also begin the process of filing a workers rights lawsuit.
Can My Lawyer Represent Me At The Public Hearing?
Yes. Even though an attorney will be appointed to the case, the plaintiffs may choose to retain their own outside counsel.
Damages That Can Be Obtained Through An Age Discrimination Lawsuit
When a plaintiff settles or wins their age discrimination lawsuit, they may obtain damages that will cover:
If the plaintiff lost their job because of age discrimination, they can be awarded back pay from the time that their job was terminated up to the trial date. It may also be possible to obtain future pay.
The financial value of benefits that were lost can be awarded to a plaintiff.
The emotional strain of being discriminated against is enough stress to cause depression, anxiety, and PTSD, so the law allows the victims of discrimination to recover damages for the emotional distress they have endured.
Punitive damages are given when the court wants to punish the defendant and deter them from behaving in a certain way in the future.
Attorney & Court Fees
The plaintiff’s attorneys fees and court fees can be covered by the damages obtained.
Ultimately, the amount awarded will vary from case to case because the losses sustained by the plaintiff are different in every case.