Age discrimination is, unfortunately, one of the most common forms of discrimination in the workplace. Age discrimination is unlawful under federal, state and (in some cases) local laws. It is highly upsetting that some employers, rather than rewarding employees who have given a significant amount of their time to their employer, choose to replace older employees with younger employees. At times, an employer may use a layoff or reduction in force to retain younger employees and disproportionately separate older employees. Our Firm has assisted many people who believed they had been treated unlawfully because of their age in these and many other ways.
Age discrimination can occur when an employer terminates an older employee and replaces them with a younger employee to save the job of a younger employee. It can also occur where an employer compensates an older employee less than a younger employee. Age discrimination and violations of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”) also occur where employers terminate employees in order to avoid pension or other retirement benefits. Age discrimination can also take the form of a “hostile work environment,” when an employer creates an environment that is unaccepting of, and intimidating towards, older employees. Moreover, in certain circumstances (pursuant to the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act), if an individual over the age of 40 is terminated, a release of the individual’s age discrimination claims (often included as part of a severance agreement) will not be enforceable unless certain requirements are complied with, such as providing the employee with a sufficient amount of time to consider the terms of the release and providing the employee with certain detailed information about other employees who have been terminated.
Employers rarely admit to engaging in age discrimination. Rather, age discrimination, like other forms of discrimination, is often proven through statistics and documentary evidence. However, even in the absence of statistical or documentary evidence, age discrimination can very often be established through an individual’s own testimony about the conduct to which he or she has been subjected. If you think you may have been a victim of age discrimination, or have questions about the validity of an age discrimination release, you should speak with an attorney who can advise you of your rights.