When it comes to age discrimination, job benefits are yet another slippery area. Your employer cannot decrease your benefits due to your age; the ADEA clearly states that employers must spend the same amount on older workers as they do on younger workers. Taking a comprehensive view of how workers over 40 can be taken advantage of, the ADEA exists to protect those whose employment may be at risk.
Am I Protected Under the ADEA?
Age discrimination can be difficult to prove. Evidence must be provided that indicates a certain organization is guilty of terminating or not hiring older workers. Although it can be tricky to ferret out crucial information in these types of cases, an experienced age discrimination lawyer will usually tell you that these kinds of events are rarely isolated. If an entire department that employs mainly older workers has been let go, then chances are that the company in question may have a history of using layoffs to justify terminating the employment of workers over 40. They may use the same tactic within a few months, even. The faster you start working with an age discrimination lawyer, the more quickly a company’s patterns can be discovered and analyzed.
Many people are also not aware that being passed over for a promotion may also fall under the ADEA if you can prove that your age was a decisive factor. Younger supervisors may show favoritism to new or younger employees because they may mistakenly believe that older subordinates may challenge their authority or even attempt to go after their positions. If a supervisor has made frequent comments about your age and other employees have led you to believe that perhaps this was an issue in the decisions being made, then it’s time to explore the fact that you may have grounds for an age discrimination case.
What Do the Statistics Say about Age Discrimination?
Although the ADEA became the law of the land over 50 years ago, age discrimination is still an issue in many workplaces. With an aging workforce—and 20% of American workers age 55 or older—more and more employees are noticing these trends. In fact, the majority of U.S. employees state that they have witnessed age discrimination themselves. Over half of adults believe that this starts to become an issue when workers reach their fifties. Some of the first signs of age discrimination are so subtle that older workers barely even perceive them. They may find that other employees suddenly start to “forget” to invite them to meetings, or they may even discover that they’re the only employee in their department who didn’t receive an incremental raise or small bonus.
Out of the large pool of adults who claim to have witnessed age discrimination, over 90 percent have indicated that the problem is extremely common. With a 2009 Supreme Court ruling making it even more difficult to prove age discrimination, it’s easy to see why so many people seek out an age discrimination lawyer who has dealt with these complex cases in the past.
Should I Hire an Age Discrimination Lawyer?
Although age discrimination cases may require a more detailed analysis than most, this doesn’t mean that you should give up on your quest for justice. One way to find out whether or not you have a promising case is to talk to an attorney that regularly works with these kinds of cases. In the past decade or so, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has indicated record numbers of age-related complaints, demonstrating that older employees are fighting back when they see injustice in the workplace.
These days, many employers are skilled at concealing their age discrimination. However, some are not. If you happen to have email or voicemail messages that chronicle your workplace’s discrimination, then you will want to preserve that information. You will also want to put the contact information of possible witnesses in a safe place. When the stakes are this high, you do not want to gamble with your future.
When you work with an attorney that deals with age discrimination, you may discover that your employer—or former employer—would prefer to settle a legitimate case of age discrimination with you instead of going to court. For obvious reasons, many corporations do not want to see their names dragged through the mud. In the age of social media, an age discrimination case can become headline news. Furthermore, many U.S. citizens empathize with the plight of older workers and can identify with them. In cases such as these, an age discrimination attorney will set the stage to make the settlement process easy and streamlined. In these more enlightened times, employees dealing with age discrimination have options. And these options can empower you in more ways than you ever imagined.