If you are an older employee who feels that you have been discriminated against in the workplace due to your age, you should not remain silent. Consider finding an employment lawyer and filing a lawsuit if your employer will not deal with you fairly. You have the right to be treated the same as any other employee, no matter your age.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, ADEA, forbids discriminating against employees and applicants who are 40 years old or older "in hiring, promotion, discharge, compensation, or terms, conditions or privileges of employment." This law is enforced by the EEOC, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The Age Discrimination Act of 1975 added more protection by prohibiting discrimination based on age in programs that receive federal financial assistance. The Civil Rights Center enforces this act.
If you are on the receiving end of certain behaviors by management or ownership, you probably have a case for age discrimination. If so, here are ways to prove your case:
- Language: If your supervisors are using ageist language such as calling you "the old woman" or "that geezer" and suggesting that you retire to make room for someone younger, you have a case. Document each instance. Write down who said what and when. If any of the persons participating in demoting or firing you are guilty of ageist language, you have grounds for a complaint and/or lawsuit.
- Disciplinary action: If after you reach a certain age, your clean record is marred by sudden write-ups placed in your file, you may be experiencing discrimination, especially if younger employees do not receive the same discipline. Again, document these instances on your own, writing down the background for each reprimand and noting when others do not receive the same treatment.
- Exclusionary behavior: If you are being left out of department meetings, training, and recreational events, it may be due to age discrimination. Keep your own records and note who was included and who was not.
- No promotions: If the younger folks are getting all the jobs and the promotions despite their qualifications, your employers may be exhibiting a pattern of age discrimination. In a lawsuit, they will have to explain why someone with 20 years of experience was passed over for a 20-year-old with little to none.
After you document the discrimination, you have several ways to proceed. You can file a claim with the EEOC in person, by telephone, or by mail, or you may seek mediation with your employer. Ultimately, you may take your company to court. Consulting with an employment lawyer like Timothy P O'Brien first is a good idea. They can advise you on the best way to proceed.