It’s undeniable – the country’s work force is aging. Workers are staying in their jobs longer and retiring later. Many baby boomers are re-entering the work force at an older age both as a means to make ends meet and to stay active. While we should applaud these efforts and value the contribution older workers can provide, the reality is that a significant amount of age discrimination exists. In fact, age discrimination is one of the fastest growing areas of employment discrimination.
What Is The Legal Definition of Age Discrimination?
Federal anti- age discrimination law – the Age Discrimination in Employment Act [ADEA] – prohibits discrimination against individuals over the age of 40. This means that if you are over 40, your employer may not discriminate against you on the basis of your age, and you are also protected from harassment on the basis of your age. This includes “adverse” employment actions such as the failure to hire you or a discharge because of your age. It also includes age harassment, which typically involves hostility or abuse directed at you by other employees because of your age. The ADEA also prohibits retaliation against you for complaining about age discrimination or for participating in someone else’s age discrimination case.
If you have questions about the ADEA or think that you have suffered age discrimination at work, it’s a good idea to consult with a top Atlanta age discrimination lawyer immediately. A skilled Atlanta employment attorney can provide critical advice and help you determine your next steps.
Often, the facts surrounding an age discrimination case are subtle. In a recent case, Ridout v. JBS USA LLC, a 62-year-old plant manager was fired from his job for alleged insubordination. He claimed that younger employees at the plant were treated more leniently. As examples, the older worker provided evidence that a 30-year-old was demoted (not fired), when management was dissatisfied with his work and a 33-year-old who had been previously fired from JBS was re-hired to fill the plant manager’s spot.
The court found that this evidence satisfied the requirement that a plaintiff show that similarly situated employees were treated better, noting: “The similarly situated co-worker inquiry is a search for a substantially similar employee, not for a clone.”
The court also found that the employer’s excuse for firing the plant manager could be considered “pretext.” Up until the time the manager was fired, he had received satisfactory performance reviews. When he was fired, his review said that he had been resistant to change, but no examples were given. Further, even though he admittedly raised his voice and was annoyed with his supervisors while on the plant floor – raising your voice on the noisy factory floor and swearing was relatively common among plant employees. No one else had been fired for yelling or swearing.
Based on this evidence, the court determined that this case should be put before a jury to decide whether the plant manager was illegally fired based on his age.
For more information or if you believe that you may have been discriminated against because of your age, please contact the top Atlanta age discrimination attorneys at Buckley Bala Wilson Mew LLP for an immediate case evaluation.