Age Discrimination

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) provides protections for employees and job applicants 40 years of age and older. The ADEA prohibits employers from treating someone less favorably because of their age. Some state laws offer protections to employees under the age of 40. Employers with 20 or more employees are subject to the ADEA. To learn how the ADEA affects you or your company, contact an experienced attorney.

Age Discrimination Charges Are On the Rise

The number of charges of age discrimination filed with the EEOC has increased in recent years. The increase may be due, in part, to the recession. The economic slowdown forced many employers to reduce their workforce, and older employees often suffered disproportionately. To make matters worse, despite their extra years of experience in the workforce, many older workers faced extra difficulties when seeking employment following a layoff.

Gross v. FBL Financial Services Inc.

Gross v. FBL Financial Services Inc., a case decided by the United States Supreme Court in 2009, made proving age discrimination even more challenging. In this case, the justices increased the burden of proof for age discrimination lawsuits, requiring the plaintiff to prove by a "preponderance of the evidence" that age was the employer's negative action against the employee. Proving any type of discrimination is difficult, and the preponderance of the evidence standard adds an extra hurdle to proving age discrimination claims. If you believe that you have been a victim of age discrimination, contact a lawyer immediately to discuss your claim.

Waiver of Rights

The ADEA also protects individuals in the event that an employer asks the employee to sign a waiver of their rights and protections. Often, these waivers are used when settling claims of discrimination under the ADEA. A waiver is generally legal if it:

  • is in writing;
  • refers specifically to the rights provided by the ADEA;
  • does not waive the right to future claims;
  • advises the employee to consult with an attorney; and
  • provides the employee at least 21 days to consider the agreement before signing.

If the employee signs a waiver of his or her ADEA rights, the employee must have at least seven days to revoke it.

What Employers Need to Know about Age Discrimination

Employers should be prepared to produce a legitimate business reason for any action against an employee. Under the ADEA, employers may not use age as a determining factor in any employment decision, even if other factors are also considered. An employee does not have to show that a negative action was based solely on age to prove age discrimination.

If you have received a complaint alleging age discrimination, contact an attorney to learn how to protect yourself from liability. The lawyers at Mays & Kerr have thorough knowledge of the ADEA and will help you understand your legal rights and responsibilities.