Helping Workers Facing Discrimination Based on Their Age
In New Jersey, it is unlawful to discriminate against a person because of their age, but it happens every day. When a company needs to downsize, it is often the older employees who are first to go. Reductions in force that disproportionately affect older workers may be discriminatory. When an employer makes hiring, firing, or promotional decisions based on age, or the perception that older employees will be slower to adapt to new technology or business needs, that is age discrimination.
If you have been terminated, laid off, or denied a promotion because of your age, you have legal rights. At Levine Staller, our attorneys represent employees through South Jersey in age discrimination matters.
Examples of Age Discrimination
Usually, when we think of age discrimination, we think of an older employee being passed over for a promotion or terminated. However, there are many different scenarios, such as:
- Termination and replacement with a younger employee.
- An employer promotes a younger employee over an older one with more experience and skills.
- An employer that shifts job responsibilities and duties to younger employees.
- A company that refuses to provide an older employer with the same training or continuing education opportunities to younger employees.
- An employer that engages in a reduction in force by terminating its oldest and highest salaried employers first.
- A company that only hires younger employees to promote a youthful image.
- A company that forces an employee to take early retirement.
- A company that decides on compensation and benefits based on an employee’s age.
- A company that decides on terms of employment based on an employee’s age.
- An employer who tells their employee that they are too old to do the job well, that “we need new blood,” or “we’re looking for someone who is in it for the long haul.”
- Paying older workers less than younger workers based on their age.
- Using harassing and demeaning words or conduct about a person’s age.
What is the NJLAD?
There are several federal laws that protect workers from age discrimination, including the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), but New Jersey has its own unique law that provides broad protections, such as the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD). The NJLAD was enacted to create an equitable work environment for all employees.
In addition to prohibiting discrimination of anyone over the age of 18 based on their age, it also protects employees who are treated differently for their membership in several protected classes, including race, national origin, sex, marital status, perceived disability, gender identity, and more.
The NJLAD prohibits all types of age discrimination in the workplace, and at all stages of employment, including:
- Recruiting process
- Terms and conditions of employment
- Job assignments, duties, and responsibilities
- Job training
An employee who exercises his or her rights under the NJLAD, or is involved in a discrimination case, cannot be fired in retaliation. There are specific laws that prohibit this kind of retaliatory firing or demotion.
Moreover, the NJLAD protects workers from a hostile work environment. In other words, if an employee tells their supervisor that they are being harassed because of their age, and their employer takes no action to stop it, that employer can be held liable for allowing a hostile work environment.
Filing an Age Discrimination Lawsuit Under the NJLAD
Filing a claim under the NJLAD can be complicated. There are numerous deadlines and filing requirements. Making a mistake that seems like a simple oversight could jeopardize your case and possibly result in its dismissal. Hiring an experienced Atlantic County age discrimination lawyer can help you ensure that your claim is filed properly and litigated.
The NJLAD has a two-year statute of limitations, and if your claim is not effectively filed within that period, , your claim may be barred.
Proving Discrimination Under the NJLAD
Because there is rarely direct evidence of discrimination, an employee may prove discrimination by presenting indirect evidence. To prove age discrimination under the NJLAD, you must demonstrate that (1) you are over the age of 18, (2) that you were objectively qualified for the position or had been performing the job in question, (3) that you suffered an adverse employment action, such as termination or demotion, and (4) that your employer hired or retained younger employees.
If you can meet these initial elements, the burden is then shifted to your employer to present a legitimate non-discriminatory reason for your termination or demotion. If your employer can meet this showing, the burden will then shift back to you to prove that your age played a role in the decision.
Age discrimination cases are amongst the hardest types of cases to prove because it is rare that an employer will tell an employee that they are being terminated because of their age. For this reason, lawyers will often seek to prove through circumstantial evidence and ageist remarks that an employee was terminated because of their age.
An employee who proves they have been terminated because of their age may be entitled to reinstatement and/or compensatory damages, including back pay and front pay, and other economic losses, such as benefits, emotional distress, and punitive damages. A prevailing plaintiff under the NJLAD is also entitled to reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs.
Atlantic County Age Discrimination Lawyers at Levine Staller Hold Employers Responsible for Age Discrimination
We strongly believe that every workplace should be fair, and decisions should be based on merit, not arbitrary characteristics like a person’s age. If you have been discriminated against because of your age, the dedicated Atlantic County age discrimination lawyers at Levine, Staller, Sklar, Chan & Brown, P.A. will fight to help you obtain the maximum compensation under the NJLAD, including back pay, front pay, and emotional distress damages. To learn more about how our experienced team of lawyers can help you, call us today at 609-348-1300 or contact us online. We represent clients throughout New Jersey, including those in Atlantic County, Ocean County, and Cape May County.