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Age Discrimination in the Workplace

What is age discrimination in the workplace? Age discrimination is the unfavorable treatment of an employee due to their age.

Did you know employees over the age of 40 have federal protections when it comes to their jobs?

The federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act, or ADEA prohibits employers from discriminating against employees and applicants who are at least 40 years old based on age. Age discrimination is unlawful in any phase of employment including job postingsjob descriptions, interviews, hiring, salaries, job assignments, merit increasesperformance management and evaluation, training, disciplinary actionspromotionsdemotions, benefits, employment termination, and layoffs. Most states, including Illinois, also have legal protections in place for employees over the age of 40.

There are many different types of employment discrimination claims. In some cases, an individual may have claims under multiple laws. A knowledgeable employment attorney can be important in a discrimination case, and one should be consulted as soon as practicable given that there are time limitations for bringing any potential claim under the ADEA, and Title VII, generally. 

The first step is to file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC. The EEOC is the agency that enforces federal anti-discrimination laws. Once a charge has been filed, a complainant can file a lawsuit once 60 days has passed. In other types of discrimination cases under Title VII, a potential litigant must obtain a right to sue letter from the EEOC, not so for age discrimination. Also, unlike Title VII discrimination cases, the proof needed to prevail is different. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that ADEA plaintiffs must show that age discrimination was the main or determinative reason for their demotion or dismissal. Under Title VII, plaintiffs can prevail if they show that discrimination was just one factor among many in the adverse employment action. Lastly, the types of damages available are different for age discrimination plaintiffs. In age discrimination cases, only actual monetary losses (back pay) are available to a plaintiff. If there is a showing of willful conduct, a plaintiff can be awarded double their monetary losses. The ADEA does not provide for the recovery of non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering.

If you believe you may have been discriminated because of age, you may have a cause of action under the ADEA or its state equivalent. Contact Dolan Law for more information.

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