When people think of age discrimination, they tend to think about employers discriminating against elderly employees or job applicants. However, discrimination based on a person’s age is unlawful even if the person is young or middle aged. Employers cannot hire, fire, promote, demote, or set an employee’s salary based on their age. Proving age discrimination can be tricky because employers usually say there was some legitimate reason justifying their decision. If you suspect that you are a victim of age discrimination, you need an experienced lawyer who understands both state and federal age discrimination law.
It is important that you consult with a qualified lawyer to determine whether it is in your best interest to pursue a discrimination claim under state law, federal law, or both. Often, state laws provide more “coverage” than federal laws. Federal law applies to companies with 15 or more employees. In New Jersey, however, every company with one employee or more is subject to the state’s antidiscrimination law, the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD).
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) is a federal law that protects job applicants who are 40 years of age or older. Under the ADEA, employers cannot discriminate at any point in the employment process. This even extends to advertisements, compensation, job assignments, discipline, and termination. Furthermore, employers cannot legally reduce life or health benefits for older workers, force them into early retirement, or utilize layoffs to reduce their numbers.
There are some circumstances where age limitations are allowable. Bona fide occupational qualifications (BFOQs) are permissible. The age limitation must be necessary for the worker to perform the job adequately, and it must be reasonable to believe that workers over a certain age are unable to safely perform the job. A common example is the age restriction on commercial airline pilots.
Seniority systems that determine benefits and wages are also permissible under the ADEA. Executives and people who make high-level policy decisions can be forced to retire at age 65 if they are given an annual pension of a statutorily specified amount.
To prove age discrimination, one must do more than show that they were replaced by a younger employee. The employee must demonstrate that the adverse employment action was intentionally taken due to their age.
Employers are permitted to ask applicants and employees to waive their rights under the ADEA in exchange for a severance package or other consideration. Such waivers must be:
Remedies available under the ADEA include:
In addition to the ADEA, the OWBPA makes it unlawful for employers to use an employee’s age as grounds for discrimination with respect to benefits and retirement.
In New Jersey, employers cannot discriminate against employees between the ages of 18 and 70. They cannot refuse to hire, fire, or otherwise discriminate with respect to compensation or terms and conditions of employment.
The NJLAD also makes it illegal to harass an employee about their age or retaliate against employee-whistleblowers. It is also unlawful to publish an advertisement recruiting employees that state a preference or restriction on age.
You have the right to be free from discrimination based on your age. If you suspect that your rights have been violated, contact us today at 609-303-0222 or contact us online. The Princeton employment discrimination lawyers at the Law Offices of Thaddeus P. Mikulski Jr will work for you. Our Princeton employment lawyers pride ourselves on treating each one of our clients with the respect they deserve in their time of need.