Age discrimination alive and well in today’s workplaces

Age discrimination complaints are all too common, and are affecting younger workers than ever before.

Age discrimination is a real problem. There has been a spike in age discrimination-related employment claims since the recent economic downturn, and, corollary to that, studies indicate that older workers have remained unemployed or underemployed much longer than their younger counterparts as the economy has recovered. The impact of age discrimination is also hitting younger workers than ever before. Whereas historically, age discrimination claims were more common among workers in their 60s or older, those over the age of 45 have in particular suffered real harm because of ageism in the job market recently.

Federal law prohibits age discrimination

The main federal law prohibiting workplace age discrimination is the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The ADEA prohibits employers with more than 20 employees from discriminating against applicants or workers age 40 or above. This includes all aspects of employment, including:

  • The hiring process (such as not hiring a worker simply because he or she is over 40 unless there is a "bona fide occupational qualification" that mandates only selecting an applicant of a certain age)
  • Promotions (refusing to offer older workers opportunities for personal career development, additional responsibilities or promotions)
  • Demotion (demoting older workers to avoid paying them higher salaries or in an attempt to get them to quit/take early retirement)
  • Layoffs (laying off only older workers because they command higher salaries or their benefits may be more expensive)
  • Firing (using pre-textual, non-performance-related reasons to fire older workers simply because of their age)
  • Creating a hostile work environment (telling age-related jokes or making comments about aging/age that make older workers uncomfortable and feel isolated)

Massachusetts state law, specifically 804 CMR 03.00 and following, also prohibits employment-related age discrimination against workers age 40 or above. Massachusetts law covers workplaces of six workers or more; in that regard, it is more inclusive than federal laws like the ADEA which are only applicable to workplaces of 20 employees or more.

Age discrimination is invasive and illegal. If you have suffered from workplace age discrimination (including having lost a job, been denied promotion opportunities or not been hired solely because of your age), you have legal rights. You might be able to bring a claim for compensation, and may also have administrative remedies available through the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination and the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. To learn more about age discrimination claims, contact the Boston law office of The Employee Rights Group, LLC. You can call the firm at 774-847-7390 or send an email to contact them online.

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