When my husband I decided to start a business, we didn't think about the legal aspects of doing so. We didn't realize that purchasing business insurance, getting building permits and making investments all required some type of legal advice. But after speaking to a close friend, who also happens to own a small business, we contacted a business attorney. Now, we have the legal smarts to make the best decisions for our business, as well as the legal representation in case something happens to our company. I hope that you find my blog helpful and informative for your own business. It's a great resource for finding the legal advice, resources and guidance you need to get your company up and running.
If you are a middle-aged or older individual who has recently lost your job and you think that your age is the reason why you were fired, then you may be able to sue your former employer for age discrimination. Age discrimination is a real, but often overlooked, form of discrimination. It is described as acting unfavorably towards someone over the age of 40 in a work-related environment. These actions can involve hiring, firing, promoting, laying off, and general employment policies. If you are thinking about taking on your employer in court, then there are some things you should know about age discrimination.
You Are Not Alone
While you may not hear much about age discrimination in the workplace, you should know that you are not alone when it comes to feeling as if your age has led to unfair termination. In fact, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has reported a substantial increase in age discrimination complaints from the year 1997 to 2013. A little over 15,000 complaints were filed in 1997 and over 21,000 were filed in 2013. While this may not seem like a huge increase, this accounts for formal complaints alone. Around 64% of workers in the Unites States say they have seen or experienced age discrimination at work. These statistics indicate that discrimination is not only an issue, but a growing problem.
Attorneys who specialize in civil rights and discrimination will take on cases that involve age. Such a case was tried in front of a jury in 2014 in the city of Los Angeles. This case involved a man, Bobby Nickel, who was fired from his job at Staples in 2011. This occurred after nine years of service with the company and many positive reviews. Nickel claimed that the Staples company wanted to save money by firing older workers with higher salaries. Nickel was not only prompted to leave his job multiple times, but he was subjected to constant harassment when refusing to quit. Nickel was fired after several years of harassment and subsequently won $26 million in damages.
This legal case shows that age discrimination can be proved and damages can be gained. However, you should understand that the $26 million award is quite large for a regular discrimination case.
Your Case May Be Difficult to Prove
The Bobby Nickel case and others won in the United States show that you should not be afraid to seek out the assistance of a lawyer if you feel that you were fired due to age discrimination. Your case will likely be difficult to prove, though. The fact that you are older than 40 and have lost your job is not nearly enough to prove wrongdoing. This is the case even if you have piles of stellar employment reviews, since most states are at-will employment states. This means that you can be fired for any reason or no reason at all. Most employers will provide a reason to prove that they are not discriminating and this reason can be used as proof that you were fired in a lawful manner.
If you do want to a file a case and win, then you will need clear evidence that age discrimination took place. If you have records of verbal, written, or email communications that contain negative comments about your age made by your employer, then this will provide proof. For example, if your boss tells you that you should start thinking about retiring due to your age or if he calls you names like "old bag" or "geezer," then this is proof of age-related harassment. Paperwork that shows you were excluded from company meetings and events that younger employees were invited to or documents that showed that you and other older employees were asked to follow different rules or deadlines are good forms of proof, too. Also, statements of people who witnessed the harassment or discrimination should be gathered as well.
To get further help and legal advice, contact a discrimination lawyer from a firm like the Law Office of Faye Riva Cohen, P.C.