Employers often make unlawful employment decisions based on an employee’s age. Age discrimination at work, specifically discrimination against employees who are over 40, violates federal and state laws.
More than one third of the US population is over 50. Yet, an AARP workplace survey showed that “nearly 2 out of 3 workers age 45 and older have seen or experienced age discrimination on the job.” (aarp.org). And most older workers believe age discrimination will keep them from finding a job.
Yet, ageism does not have to be an accepted bias. When a manager says it’s time to “freshen” up the workplace. Or when an employer refuses to interview a candidate because her resume shows a long history. Or when layoffs seem to affect only the older workers. Or, even when employees who complain suffer retaliation, something can be done.
In fact, layoffs often prove to the most opportune time for age discrimination. With technology companies and other employers laying off tens of thousands of employees, older workers typically take the brunt of these actions – squeezed into groups to look like part of the masses. But careful scrutiny of those employees selected for layoff often reveals the pattern.
If you believe you have been the victim of age discrimination, an experienced Boston age discrimination lawyer may be able to help. The attorneys at Gordon Law Group, LLP are frequently cited among the best employment lawyers in the nation. Based in Boston, they represent victims of age discrimination in the workplace across the country and are committed to holding employers accountable for their actions.
Understanding Discrimination Against Age in the Workplace
Unfortunately, workplace age discrimination still thrives in America. Age discrimination can take many forms. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) as well as Massachusetts Fair Employment Practices Act (M.G.L. c. 151B) are laws are designed to protect workers by prohibiting employers from making employment decisions treating people over age 40 less favorably because of their age.
Age discrimination may occur in hiring decisions, promotions, layoffs, terminations, reduction in hours, compensation, benefits, work assignments, training and more. For example, an employer that refuses to hire or promote older workers, or who selects older employees when making layoffs, or who forces older workers to retire may be guilty of workplace age discrimination. In other cases, an employer gives older workers unfavorable work assignments or poor performance reviews compared to their younger co-workers. Or denies older workers benefits or pensions that are available to younger workers.
Employers have a responsibility to prevent and address age discrimination in the workplace. They should have a written policy against age discrimination and provide training to all employees on the issue. Employers should also have a clear process for employees to report age discrimination. They should investigate any complaints thoroughly and impartially, and they should protect the employees who raise the issues. In fact, the failure to investigate a complaint is itself against the law.
EEOC and State Agencies Often Overwhelmed
Employees who experience age discrimination in the workplace have the right to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and for those states that have a local equal employment opportunity agency (known as the MCAD in Massachusetts, or the Human Rights Commission in New York), a complaint can often be filed there, too. The EEOC is a federal agency that investigates and enforces laws against workplace discrimination, including age discrimination, and state agencies are similar.
Yet, these agencies are often overwhelmed. It has been reported that the EEOC has a smaller staff and budget today than it did in 1980. Meanwhile, the labor forced has increased from 91 million workers across the country in 1980 to 165 million in 2023.
That’s where Boston age discrimination lawyers like those at Gordon Law Group can help. Because, in addition to filing with a federal or state agency, an employee can also file their own complaint in court. And, while not every employment decision that impacts an employee or candidate over age 40 is related to a worker’s age, many are. Generally, this means that the impacted employee must be able to prove that he or she was capable of performing the duties of the position, that an adverse action occurred, and that the employer’s decision favored someone younger. When an age discrimination attorney is able to successfully prove that discrimination occurred, the affected employee or candidate may be entitled to compensation including lost wages, emotional distress, liquidated damages and even punitive damages.
Protections Against Retaliation
It’s also not enough for an employer to have policies prohibiting age discrimination. They must enforce those policies, too. Most importantly, they must protect workers who stand up for themselves or other older workers – and they must investigate complaints.
Importantly, the laws against age discrimination also prohibit retaliation against employees who complain – internally or externally – about unlawful age discrimination. The laws even protect those who complain on behalf of their colleagues or who testify in a lawsuit. For example, if an employee complains that they or other older workers are being treated unfairly due to their age – even if that worker herself is older – they may be protected from adverse employment action too. This is when hiring an age discrimination attorney may prove critical, to make sure the internal or external complaint is proper and well-documented.
Choose an Experienced Age Discrimination Lawyer
If you believe you have been the victim of workplace discrimination on the basis of your age, or if you’ve been retaliated against for speaking up for yourself or a co-worker, you need a knowledgeable Boston age discrimination attorney in your corner. Gordon Law Group, LLP is well-versed in the ADEA and Massachusetts Anti-Discrimination laws and has a track record of success with all types of employment discrimination matters for clients in Boston and beyond. The firm represents employees in all industries and at all levels, from service workers to executives. We are among the best employment lawyers around, and we are committed to advocating for employees’ rights.
Age discrimination is illegal and should never be tolerated. Holding employers accountable sends a powerful message and can protect other employees from experiencing the same types of age discrimination in the future. If your employer made adverse employment decisions and you believe age was a factor, contact Gordon Law Group, LLP today to schedule a consultation.